News of the WeekAids

T Cell Production Slowed, Not Exhausted?

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Science  15 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5400, pp. 305-306
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5400.305a

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Does the AIDS virus cause the disease's signature symptom--the progressive loss of CD4 T lymphocytes, the primary immune cell targeted by HIV--by destroying T cells so quickly and efficiently that the immune system exhausts itself trying to replace them, or does it disrupt the immune system's ability to produce T cells in the first place? In the January issue of Nature Medicine, a team reports results obtained by using a new technique that for the first time provides a direct measure of how many new cells are produced over a given time period. The findings, the team says, support the notion that HIV's most important and insidious talent is to interfere with T cell production.