HIV infection rapidly induces and maintains a substantial suppression of thymocyte proliferation

Marie Lise Dion, Jean François Poulin, Rebeka Bordi, Myriam Sylvestre, Rachel Corsini, Nadia Kettaf, Ali Dalloul, Mohamed Rachid Boulassel, Patrice Debré, Jean Pierre Routy, Zvi Grossman, Rafick Pierre Sékaly*, Rémi Cheynier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

211 Citations (Scopus)


The supply of naive T cells by the thymus normally requires precursor T cell proliferation within the thymus and would be particularly important in the setting of HIV infection when both naive and memory T cells are progressively depleted. As a robust, quantitative index of intrathymic proliferation, the ratio of different T cell receptor excision circles (TRECs), molecular markers of distinct T cell receptor rearrangements occurring at different stages of thymocyte development, was measured in peripheral blood-mononuclear cells (PBMCs). This ratio has the virtue that it is a "signature" of thymic emigrants throughout their entire life and, thus, can be measured in peripheral cell populations that are easy to obtain. Using the new assay, we evaluated the effect of HIV infection on intrathymic precursor T cell proliferation by longitudinal analysis of PBMCs from recently infected individuals. Our findings reveal a substantial reduction in intrathymic proliferation. The analysis also indicates the existence of a compensatory mechanism acting to sustain the numbers of recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) in the periphery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-768
Number of pages12
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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