Antiviral immunity in HIV-1 infected long-term non-progressors (LTNPs)
Abstract Now that the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic is well into its second decade, it has become evident that a small percentage (approximately 5%) of HIV-infected individuals do not experience progression of HIV disease even after several years of being infected with HIV. These individuals have been designated as ‘long term non-progressors’ (LTNP). From a virologic standpoint, these LTNP have low viral burden in mononuclear cells, but persistent virus replication as manifested by chronic and generally low levels of plasma viremia. From an immunologic standpoint, immune functions including CD8 + T-cell- and CD4 + T-cell-mediated functions are preserved. In addition, they show a vigorous humoral immune response. More importantly, lymphoid tissue structure and function are preserved in LTNP. Despite persistent low-level virus replication and chronic stimulation of the immune system, immune activation is qualitatively and quantitatively different in LTNP compared to that observed in HIV-infected individuals whose HIV disease has progressed.