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While a significant proportion of HIV-2-infected individuals are asymptomatic and maintain undetectable viral loads (controllers), 15% to 20% progress to AIDS and are predicted by detectable viremia. Identifying immune correlates that distinguish these 2 groups should provide insights into how a potentially pathogenic retrovirus can be naturally controlled. We performed a detailed study of HIV-2-specific cellular responses in a unique community cohort in Guinea-Bissau followed for over 2 decades. T-cell responses were compared between controllers (n = 33) and viremic subjects (n = 27) using overlapping peptides, major histocompatibility complex class I tetramers, and multiparameter flow cytometry. HIV-2 viral control was significantly associated with a high-magnitude, polyfunctional Gag-specific CD8(+) T-cell response but not with greater perforin upregulation. This potentially protective HIV-2-specific response is surprisingly narrow. HIV-2 Gag-specific CD8(+) T cells are at an earlier stage of differentiation than cytomegalovirus-specific CD8(+) T-cells, do not contain high levels of cytolytic markers, and exhibit low levels of activation and proliferation, representing distinct properties from CD8(+) T cells associated with HIV-1 control. These data reveal the potential T-cell correlates of HIV-2 control and the detailed phenotype of virus-specific CD8(+) T cells in a naturally contained retroviral infection.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





4330 - 4339


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Anti-Retroviral Agents, Antigens, CD, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Female, Flow Cytometry, GPI-Linked Proteins, HIV Infections, HIV-2, Humans, Immunophenotyping, Male, Middle Aged, Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor, Receptors, Immunologic, Signaling Lymphocytic Activation Molecule Family, Viremia, gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus