Protective immunity to HIV-1 in SCID/beige mice reconstituted with peripheral blood lymphocytes of exposed but uninfected individuals

Chengsheng Zhang, Yan Cui, Stan Houston, Lung Ji Chang

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34 Scopus citations


Immunodeficiency typically appears many years after initial HIV infection. This long, essentially asymptomatic period contributes to the transmission of HIV in human populations. In rare instances, clearance of HIV-1 infection has been observed, particularly in infants. There are also reports of individuals who have been frequently exposed to HIV-1 but remain seronegative for the virus, and it has been hypothesized that these individuals are resistant to infection by HIV-1. However, little is known about the mechanism of immune clearance or protection against HIV-1 in these high-risk individuals because it is difficult to directly demonstrate in vivo protective immunity. Although most of these high-risk individuals show an HIV-1-specific cell-mediated immune response using in vitro assays, their peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) are still susceptible to HIV infection in tissue culture. To study this further in vivo, we have established a humanized SCID mouse infection model whereby T-, B-, and natural killer-cell defective SCID/beige mice that have been reconstituted with normal human PBLs can be infected with HIV-1. When the SCID/beige mice were reconstituted with PBLs from two different multiply exposed HIV-1 seronegative individuals, the mice showed resistance to infection by two strains of HIV-1 (macrophage tropic and T cell tropic), although the same PBLs were easily infected in vitro. Mice reconstituted with PBLs from mm-HIV-exposed controls were readily infected. When the same reconstituted mice were depleted of human CD8 T cells, however, they became susceptible to HIV-1 infection, indicating that the in vivo protection required CD8 T cells. This provides clear experimental evidence that some multiply exposed, HIV-1-negative individuals have in vivo protective immunity that is CD8 T cell-dependent. Understanding the mechanism of such protective immunity is critical to the design and testing of effective prophylactic vaccines and immunotherapeutic regimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14720-14725
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
StatePublished - Dec 10 1996
Externally publishedYes

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