One of the major obstacles to effective prolonged CD8 T cell control over HIV and other latent infections may be the intrinsic, genetically programmed barrier to unlimited proliferation that is characteristic of all normal human somatic cells. Replicative senescence, characterized extensively in cell culture for a variety of cell types, comprises both irreversible cell cycle arrest and striking changes in function. CD8 T cells with features similar to senescent CD8 T cell cultures (i.e., absence of CD28, inability to proliferate, telomeres in the 5-7 kb range, resistance to apoptosis) increase progressively during aging and in chronic HIV infection, suggesting that replicative senescence may be occurring in vivo, and, in fact, may constitute the final stage in the normal differentiation of human T cells. CD8 T cells with characteristics suggestive of senescence have also been implicated in modulating immune function and altering bone homeostasis. Further characterization of the underlying mechanism leading to the generation of senescent memory CD8 T cells and analysis of their functional attributes will help elucidate their role in HIV disease pathogenesis.
Keywords: Replicative senescence,, CD8 T cells,, HIV,, aging.
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