The rate of progression to disease varies considerably among individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1). Analyses of semiannual blood samples obtained from six infected men showed that a rapid rate of CD4 T cell loss was associated with relative evolutionary stasis of the HIV-1 quasispecies virus population. More moderate rates of CD4 T cell loss correlated with genetic evolution within three of four subjects. Consistent with selection by the immune constraints of these subjects, amino acid changes were apparent within the appropriate epitopes of human leukocyte antigen class I-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Thus, the evolutionary dynamics exhibited by the HIV-1 quasispecies virus populations under natural selection are compatible with adaptive evolution.
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