Quantification of naive and memory T-cell turnover during HIV-1 infection

Nienke Vrisekoop, Julia Drylewicz, Rogier Van Gent, Tendai Mugwagwa, Steven Van Lelyveld, Ellen Veel, Sigrid A Otto, Mariëtte T Ackermans, Joost N Vermeulen, Hidde H Huidekoper, Jan M Prins, Frank Miedema, Rob J de Boer, Kiki Tesselaar, José A M Borghans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: In HIV infection, the homeostasis of CD4 and CD8 T cells is dramatically disturbed, and several studies have pointed out that T-cell turnover rates are increased. To understand how the CD4 and CD8 T-cell pools are affected, it is important to have quantitative insights into the lifespans of the cells constituting the different T-lymphocyte populations.

METHODS: We used long-term in-vivo H2O labeling and mathematical modeling to estimate the average lifespans of naive and memory CD4 and CD8 T cells in untreated (n = 4) and combination antiretroviral therapy-treated (n = 3) HIV-1-infected individuals.

RESULTS: During untreated chronic HIV-1 infection, naive CD4 and CD8 T cells lived on average 618 and 271 days, whereas memory CD4 and CD8 T cells had average lifespans of 53 and 43 days, respectively. These lifespans were at least three-fold shorter than those in healthy controls (n = 5). In patients on effective combination antiretroviral therapy with total CD4 T-cell counts in the normal range, we found that naive CD4 and CD8 T-cell lifespans had not completely normalized and were still two-fold shortened.

CONCLUSION: The average lifespan of both naive and memory CD4 and CD8 T cells decreased during untreated chronic HIV-1 infection. Although the turnover of the memory T-cell populations nearly normalized during effective treatment, the turnover of naive CD4 and CD8 T cells did not seem to normalize completely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2071–2080
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2015


  • HIV
  • labeling
  • lifespan
  • lymphocytes
  • mathematical modeling
  • stable isotope
  • T cells


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