We have previously demonstrated that recombinant soluble CD4 protein (rsT4) blocks both HIV-1 infection of CD4 bearing lymphocytes and syncytium formation in vitro. (Recombinant soluble CD4 is designated by rsT4). Hence, we suggested the use of rsT4 in therapy for AIDS or the prevention of HIV-1 infection in individuals with a known risk of exposure. However, concerns arose that rsT4 might be immunosuppressive because of its implicated role in the enhancement of certain lymphocyte activation events through its engagement of MHC class II molecules on target cells. We therefore assessed the effect of recombinant soluble CD4 upon a number of functional and activation parameters of lymphocytes, including cellular proliferation, IL-2 secretion, and cytolytic capability, after antigenic or mitogenic stimulation. We report here that rsT4, at 60-fold over the concentration needed to block acute HIV-1 infection in vitro, does not significantly inhibit the activation of human peripheral blood lymphocytes by either PHA, tetanus toxoid or allogeneic cells. These results indicate that rsT4 will potentially exert minimal immunosuppressive effects in vivo, thus supporting the feasibility of clinical trials of rsT4 in the treatment or prevention of AIDS. In addition, the implications of these results for the interactions between CD4 and MHC class II molecules during lymphocyte activation are discussed.
M A Liu, T Liu