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Fas ligand deficiency in HIV disease

  • Scott Sieg
  • Dawn Smith
  • Zafer Yildirim
  • David Kaplan
The National Academy of Sciences of the USA
Publication Date
May 27, 1997
  • Medicine


Apoptosis is postulated to be involved as an anti-viral immune mechanism by killing infected cells before viral replication has occurred. The Fas–Fas ligand interaction is a powerful regulator of T cell apoptosis and could potentially act as a potent anti-viral immune mechanism against T cell tropic virus such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We investigated the status of Fas ligand in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from persons infected with HIV. We found that monocytes in freshly isolated PBMCs from healthy individuals possess cell surface Fas ligand. In contrast, monocytes in freshly isolated PBMCs from HIV-infected patients had no detectable Fas ligand on the cell surface. Consistent with these findings of surface expression, Fas ligand activity was deficient in the cells from HIV-infected persons. The effect of replacing Fas ligand activity on HIV production by patients’ cells was assessed in an in vitro assay. The addition of a functional anti-Fas antibody to PBMCs from HIV-infected individuals inhibited viral production by greater than 90% without affecting lymphocytic function. These findings suggest the possibility of a new therapeutic modality for the treatment of HIV-infected individuals based on the reconstitution of Fas ligand activity.

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