Cultured human thymus epithelial monolayer cells induce CD4 expression on mononuclear cells of AIDS patients in vitro

H. J. Schuurman, R. W. Hendriks, J. M.A. Lange, J. A. van der Linden, F. H. Gmelig Meyling, S. A. Danner, L. Kater

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We investigated the in vitro effect of cultured human thymic epithelial monolayer cells on mononuclear cells (MNC) from patients with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and AIDS-related complex (ARC). Patients having undergone bone-marrow transplantation (BMT), who showed a similar deficiency of T-lymphocytes expressing CD4 (Leu-3, T4), and healthy blood donors served as controls. Most epithelial monolayer cells were of thymic medulla origin, as documented using a panel of monoclonal antibodies to thymic epithelial cells. In AIDS/ARC patients the CD4-positive cells (ranging between 4 and 30% of MNC) increased by a factor of 1.56 (s.e.m. 0.15 n = 12) during a 2 h incubation on the monolayer. Human fetal lung fibroblasts were inactive in this respect. There was no consistent change in cells expressing CD3 (Leu-4, T3), CD5 (Leu-1) or CD8 (Leu-2, T8). In BMT patients and healthy controls, neither thymus epithelial nor fibroblasts had any effect on T cell marker expression. Incorporation of tritiated thymidine by stimulated or unstimulated lymphocytes was increased after incubation for 3 days on either epithelium or fibroblasts. We conclude that CD4 expression is induced on MNC from AIDS/ARC patients during a 2 h incubation on epithelial monolayers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-355
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1986

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