Author(s): Cao W, Jamieson BD, Hultin LE, Hultin PM, Detels R, Cao W, Jamieson BD, Hultin LE, Hultin PM, Detels R
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Abstract Regulatory T cells (Tregs) may play an important role in the immunopathology of chronic HIV-1 infection due to their potent suppressive activity of both T cell activation and effector function. To investigate the correlation between Tregs and immune activation during untreated chronic HIV-1 infection, we conducted a nested case-control study within the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS). Twenty HIV-1-infected fast progressors (FP) and 40 slow progressors (SP) were included in our study using risk-set sampling. Nine age-matched HIV-1-uninfected men (UI) were also included. Cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PMBCs) were tested using flow cytometry analyses. We identified Tregs as Foxp3+CD25+CD4+ T cells and assessed the activation of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells by the expression of CD38, HLADR, or both markers simultaneously. There is a relative expansion of Tregs during HIV-1 infection, which is associated with disease progression. The increased CD38 expression on both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressed as either percentage or median fluorescence intensity (MFI) and the elevated proportion of CD8+ T cells that is HLADR+CD38+ were all associated with rapid HIV-1 progression. Counter to the assumed role of Tregs as the suppressors of activation, the expansion of Tregs was positively correlated with CD4+ T cell activation among HIV-1-infected fast progressors. The high level of Tregs associated with rapid HIV progression may suggest a detrimental role of these cells in the immune control of HIV-1 infection.
This article was published in AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research