In order to assess whether the human retrovirus HIV, like other animal retroviruses, is endowed with intrinsic immunosuppressive activity, we studied the effects of noninfectious, uv-irradiated virus on in vitro lymphocyte function. uvHIV preparations inhibited T-cell proliferation to mitogens and alloantigens, as well as mitogen-driven IL-2 production. The inhibitory effect, which was not exerted by uv-irradiated HTLV-I, was apparently not due to a decrease in cell viability and was likely associated with thermoresistant viral component(s). The suppression proved to be selective for T-cell responses, while sparing other lymphocyte functions, such as the B-cell proliferative response to a selective B-cell mitogen. The inhibitory effect of uvHIV was not counteracted by a substantial reduction in the number of monocytes or by indomethacin. Moreover, IL-I production by monocytes was not affected upon virus incubation. On the other hand, the proliferative response of both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell clones was inhibited by uvHIV, suggesting that T cells represent the actual target for the inhibitory effect. Although a sizeable decrease in IL-2 production was observed following uvHIV incubation, exogenous IL-2 was not capable of reversing the virus-induced suppression of the proliferation. The possibility that the immunosuppressive activity of noninfectious HIV contributes to the T-cell defect in infected patients by mechanisms other than the cytopathic effect on CD4+ T lymphocytes is discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine