Quantification of HIV-1-specific T-cell responses at the mucosal cervicovaginal surface

Barbara Shacklett, Susan Cu-Uvin, Thomas J. Beadle, Christine A. Pace, Noam M. Fast, Shannon M. Donahue, Angela M. Caliendo, Timothy P. Flanigan, Charles C J Carpenter, Douglas F. Nixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objective: To characterize HIV-1 specific cellular immune responses at mucosal surfaces using a rapid, sensitive enzyme-linked immuno-spot (ELISPOT) technique. Design: Cervicovaginal mononuclear cells obtained from cytobrush and cervicovaginal lavage were assessed for production of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) in response to stimulation by HIV-1 antigens. HIV-1 specific responses were compared in a cross-sectional study of two HIV-1-positive patient groups: women not currently on anti-retroviral therapy with peripheral CD4 cell counts > 250 x 106/l (n = 12); and women on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) (n = 9). Methods: Mononuclear cells from peripheral blood or cervicovaginal specimens were assessed in an ELISPOT assay for responses to HIV-1 antigens expressed by recombinant vaccinia viruses. This assay detects primarily CD8 T cells and shows good correlation with MHC class I tetramer staining of cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Results: HIV-1 specific IFN-γ spot-forming cells were detected in cervicovaginal samples of one out of nine women (11%) on HAART and five out of 12 women (42%) not currently on HAART. In peripheral blood mononuclear cells, HIV-1 specific IFN-γ spot-forming cells were significantly more numerous in women not currently on HAART than in women on HAART (P = 0.009). In most cases, antigens recognized by mucosal T cells were also recognized by PBMC; however, there were exceptions. Conclusions: HIV-1-specific antigen-reactive T cells may be detected in routine, non-invasive gynecological specimens. The results suggest that cervicovaginal HIV-1-specific T cells may be less numerous in individuals on HAART than in those not on HAART, as shown previously for HIV-1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in the peripheral blood. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1911-1915
Number of pages5
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 8 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • Cellular immunity
  • Gynecology
  • Obstetrics
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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