CD8 T cells are believed to play a key role in the immune control of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection in children as well as in adults. We have used an enhanced EliSpot (AmpliSpot) assay to quantitate CD8 T-cell responses directed to five human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-A2-presented HIV-1 epitopes derived from the key viral antigen Nef. Responses were assayed in one group of 21 children with vertically acquired HIV infection and one group of 19 adult subjects with chronic infection. The paediatric group displayed significantly weaker and more narrowly focused CD8 T-cell responses as compared with the adult subjects. Two epitopes stood out as the most frequently and strongly recognized, suggesting that they should be considered immunodominant in the CD8 T-cell response to HIV-1 Nef. Interestingly, the most frequently and strongly recognized epitope in both adults and children was previously identified in HLA-A2-transgenic mice, demonstrating the usefulness of such mice in finding natural viral epitopes. These findings indicate significant weakness in strength and breadth of the CD8 T-cell response to the target protein Nef in infected children and prompt renewed efforts into the immunology of vertically acquired HIV-1 infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas