The mucosal immune system of the female reproductive tract is of central importance for protection against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV; however, this arm of the immune system remains poorly understood. Antiviral CTL responses never have been documented in the genital tract and the role of CTL in this anatomic site is unknown. In this study, CD8+ intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) in the vaginas of six simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected female rhesus macaques were identified by immunohistochemistry to be CD2+ and TCR β-chain+. In addition, the majority of CD8+ IEL contained TIA-1+ cytoplasmic granules that are associated with CTL activity. CD8+ T cells were isolated from the vaginal epithelium and submucosa and amplified by limiting dilution in the presence of feeder cells. SIV p55(gag) and/or gp160(env)-specific lysis was detected in cultures of vaginal epithelial but not submucosal CD8+ T lymphocytes. Estimated SIV-specific precursor CTL frequencies were higher in the vaginal CD8+ IEL population of chronically infected monkeys than in the same cells from acutely infected monkeys or a naive control monkey. These results provide the first demonstration that antiviral CTL are present in the vaginal epithelium, and suggest that a vaccine may be able to generate anti-HIV CTL in the genital mucosa.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Journal of Immunology|
|State||Published - 1995|
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