Relationship of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells to immune status in HIV-infected patients.
ABSTRACT To determine whether the frequencies of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (T Reg) were related to immune status in HIV-infected patients.
Peripheral blood CD4 T-cell populations were examined for T-helper 1 cells (Th1), T-helper 2 cells (Th2), and T Reg by intracellular staining for interferon (IFN)-gamma and interleukin (IL)-4, and surface staining for CD25, respectively. The immunoregulatory properties of T Reg were assessed by measurement of the inhibitory effects of isolated CD4+CD25+ T Reg on CD4+CD25- T-cell proliferation.
Isolated CD4+CD25+ T Reg from both HIV-infected patients and healthy controls strongly expressed CD45RO, HLA-DR, and FoxP3. HIV-infected patients with detectable plasma HIV-1 RNA showed a statistically significant increase in CD4+CD25high T Reg frequencies (P < 0.05) compared to healthy controls, with T Reg frequency inversely proportional to CD4 T-cell count (P < 0.01). However, in HIV-infected patients with undetectable plasma HIV-1 RNA, CD4+CD25high T Reg frequencies were not increased and were not related to CD4 T-cell counts. In both HIV-infected patient groups, T Reg frequency was inversely related to Th1 frequency (detectable HIV-1 RNA: P < 0.05; undetectable: P < 0.001), but positively related to Th2 frequency (detectable HIV-1 RNA: P < 0.01; undetectable: P < 0.001). T Reg activity was lower in patients with detectable plasma HIV-1 RNA than in patients with undetectable plasma HIV-1 RNA.
Increased T Reg frequencies in peripheral blood were related to low peripheral blood CD4 T-cell counts and polarization toward Th2 immune responses in HIV-infected patients.
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