HIV-1-specific cellular immune responses among HIV-1-resistant sex workers

Keith R. Fowke, Rupert Kaul, Kenneth L. Rosenthal, Julius Oyugi, Joshua Kimani, W. John Rutherford, Nico J.D. Nagelkerke, T. Blake Ball, Job J. Bwayo, J. Neil Simonsen, Gene M. Shearer, Francis A. Plummer

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95 Citations (Scopus)


The goal of the present study was to determine whether there were HIV-1 specific cellular immune responses among a subgroup of women within a cohort of Nairobi prostitutes (n = 1800) who, despite their intense sexual exposure to HIV-1, are epidemiologically resistant to HIV-1 infection. Of the 80 women defined to be resistant, 24 were recruited for immunological evaluation. The HIV-1-specific T-helper responses were determined by IL-2 production following stimulation with HIV-1 envelope peptides and soluble gp120. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses were determined by lysis of autologous EBV-transformed B cell lines infected with control vaccinia virus or recombinant vaccinia viruses containing the HIV-1 structural genes env, gag and pol. Resistant women had significantly increased HIV-1 specific T-helper responses, as determined by in vitro IL-2 production to HIV-1 envelope peptides and soluble glycoprotein 120, compared with low-risk seronegative and HIV-1-infected controls (P ≤ 0.01, Student's t-test). Seven of the 17 (41%) resistant women showed IL-2 stimulation indices ≥ 2.0. HIV-1-specific CTL responses were detected among 15/22 (68.2%) resistant women compared with 0/12 low-risk controls (Chi-squared test, P < 0.001). In the two resistant individuals tested, the CTL activity was mediated by CD8+ effectors. Many HIV-1-resistant women show evidence of HIV-1-specific T-helper and cytotoxic responses. These data support the suggestion that HIV-1-specific T-cell responses contribute to protection against HIV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-595
Number of pages10
JournalImmunology and Cell Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • AIDS
  • Africa
  • Cellular immunity
  • Cytotoxic T lymphocyte
  • Exposed uninfected
  • HIV
  • Resistance
  • T helper cell
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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