Role of T cell subsets in the development of AIDS-associated interstitial pneumonitis in mice

E A Fitzpatrick, M Avdiushko, A M Kaplan, D A Cohen
Experimental Lung Research 1999, 25 (8): 671-87
Idiopathic interstitial pneumonitis (IP), characterized by lymphocytic infiltration of the lung and pulmonary dysfunction, is a major noninfectious complication of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The role of the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell populations and INF-gamma in the development of IP were analyzed using a murine model of retroviral-associated IP. Infected mice depleted of CD8+ T cells developed IP similarly to untreated infected mice, suggesting that the CD8+ T cell population does not play a role in IP. Furthermore, depletion of CD8+ T cells did not alter the level of viral RNA in lungs, suggesting that cytotoxic T cells may not serve a role in controlling virus burden in lungs. In contrast, depletion of CD4+ T cells in infected mice prevented the development of IP and inhibited inflammatory cytokine expression, suggesting that CD4+ T cells are important for the development of IP. IFN-gamma -/- mice infected with virus for 10 weeks developed IP, although the severity of lymphocytic infiltration was substantially reduced compared to infected wild-type mice. The data suggest that persistent viral antigen in the lung may drive a CD4+ T cell-mediated immune response, resulting in the chronic production of IFN-gamma which amplifies a chronic inflammatory response in the lung resulting in tissue injury.

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