A small percentage of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)- and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected individuals spontaneously control virus replication. The majority of these elite controllers mount high-frequency virus-specific CD4+ T cell responses. To evaluate the role these responses might play in viral control, we depleted two elite controller macaques of CD4+ cells. SIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses did not return to baseline levels until 8 weeks postdepletion. Viral loads remained stable throughout the experiment, suggesting that SIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses may not play a direct role in controlling chronic viral replication in these elite controllers
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