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T cell epitopes restricted by several protective HLA alleles, such as B*57, B*5801, B*27, B*51 and B*13, have been very well defined over the past two decades. We investigated 32 well-known T cell epitopes restricted by protective HLA molecules among 54 Chinese men who have sex with men (MSM) at the early stage of HIV-1 infection. Subjects in our cohort carrying protective HLA types did not exhibit slow CD4 T cell count decline (P = 0.489) or low viral load set points (P = 0.500). Variations occurred in 96.88% (31/32) of the known wild-type epitopes (rate 1.85-100%), and the variation rates of the strains of two CRF01_AE lineages were significantly higher than those of non-CRF01_AE strains (76.82% vs. 48.96%, P = 0.004; 71.27% vs. 8.96%, P = 0.025). Subjects infected with CRF01_AE exhibited relatively rapid disease progression (P = 0.035). Therefore, the lack of wild-type protective T cell epitopes restricted by classic protective HLA alleles in CRF01_AE HIV-1 strains may be one of the reasons why rapid disease progression is observed in Chinese MSM with HIV-1 infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Med Microbiol Immunol

Publication Date





239 - 251


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes, Disease progression, Epitope variants, Human immunodeficiency virus type 1, Human leukocyte antigen, Men who have sex with men, Adult, Alleles, China, Disease Progression, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, Follow-Up Studies, HIV Infections, HLA Antigens, Homosexuality, Male, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Polymorphism, Genetic, Prospective Studies, Viral Load, Young Adult