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The role of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection remains elusive. Since the discovery 10 years ago of high levels of specific CTL in this disease, some have argued that they play an important role in virus control, others that they drive disease progression through destruction of T helper cells, and others still that they play no obvious role at all. By contrast, the central role of CTL in murine lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection has been very clearly worked out through the use of in vivo depletion and adoptive transfer experiments, as well as knockout and transgenic mice. To interpret the possible roles for CTL in HIV, we have therefore made a comparison between what is known about CTL and their interaction with virus-infected cells in these two infections. This illustrates a potential critical role for these cells in both control of HIV replication and immune-mediated pathology, but one that is highly dependent on virus dose, distribution and dynamics.


Journal article


Immunol Rev

Publication Date





5 - 16


Animals, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, Lymphoid Tissue, Mice, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic