AIMS: To evaluate the expression of the alpha 5 beta 1 integrin fibronectin receptor (FNR), which mediates several processes, including phagocytosis, cell motility and the immune response, on T lymphocytes of patients with HIV-1 infection. METHODS: T lymphocytes were incubated with monoclonal antibody directed against FNR and then with monoclonal antibodies, conjugated with phycoerythrin, directed against CD3, CD4 and CD8 positive cells. Expression of FNR on CD3, CD4 and CD8 positive cells was analysed using flow cytometry. RESULTS: Normal expression of FNR was observed on CD3 positive cells from asymptomatic HIV positive patients and those with AIDS. Increased expression of FNR was observed on CD8 positive cells from asymptomatic HIV positive patients and on CD4 positive cells from patients with AIDS. Increased FNR expression was observed on CD4 positive cells from patients with AIDS, particularly those with opportunistic infections caused by Pneumocystis carinii, Mycobacterium sp, Toxoplasma gondii, and Cryptococcus neoformans. CONCLUSION: Increased expression of FNR on CD8 and CD4 positive cells in asymptomatic HIV positive patients and those with AIDS, respectively, may be an epiphenomenon correlated with lymphocyte activation by HIV-1 or opportunistic infection, Further study is required to determine whether upregulation of FNR expression has a direct role in the pathogenesis of AIDS.
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