Background: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is frequently associated with only partial restoration of CD4 T-cell levels. Autoimmunity to CD4 T-cells may account for the persistence of the CD4 T-cell lymphopenia in such cases. Objective: To document T-cell autoimmunity to CD4 in HIV-infected patients and to determine if T-cell vaccination against CD4 autoimmunity is feasible and safe. Study design: Seven out of 20 HIV-infected patients undergoing HAART who manifested T- cell reactivity to rCD4, gp120 and to recall antigens (Tetanus toxoid and Candida) were treated with T-cell vaccines composed of glutaraldehyde treated autologous, activated T-cells, and enriched in anti CD4-reactive T-cells. The response of the seven vaccinated patients was compared to seven non-vaccinated HIV-1 infected subjects. Results: Five out of seven responded with a decrease in anti-CD4 autoimmunity, associated with a persistent increase in their CD4 T-cell levels; just one of the control patients showed increased CD4 levels. No change in HIV plasma viral loads and no adverse effects were detected in any of the T-cell vaccinated patients. Conclusions: The persistence of CD4 T-cell lymphopenia despite effective anti-retroviral treatment may be associated with anti-CD4 autoimmunity. T-cell vaccination with autologous autoimmune CD8 T-cells may decrease such autoimmunity and increase CD4 T-cell numbers.
- T-cell vaccination