Studies have found that CD8 T-cell activation, as measured by CD38 expression, in HIV-1-infected individuals on suppressive therapy for longer than 12 months is not predictive of CD4 T-cell recovery. Owing to the fact that reconstitution of memory and naive T-cell populations occurs differentially over time, this study evaluated whether distinct memory/naive CD4 T-cell subsets correlated with CD38 on CD8 T-cells.
Whole blood from 13 participants was used to evaluate activation phenotypic markers on CD8 lymphocytes and memory/naive phenotypes on CD4 lymphocytes. These HIV-1-infected individuals had stable CD4 cell counts for more than 1 year while on suppressive combination antiretroviral therapy.
The results demonstrate that CD4 central memory and naive cell populations contribute to the magnitude of CD4 T-cell reconstitution. CD4 central memory has a significant negative correlation with the percentage of CD38-activated CD8 T-cells.
This suggests that CD8 activation is important in CD4 recovery from a low CD4 T-cell nadir.