[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spontaneous control of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has been documented in a minority of HIV-infected individuals. The mechanisms behind this outcome remain largely unknown, and a better understanding of them will likely influence future vaccine strategies.
HIV-specific T cell and antibody responses as well as host genetics were examined in untreated HIV-infected patients who maintain comparatively low plasma HIV RNA levels (hereafter, controllers), including those with levels of < 50 RNA copies/mL (elite controllers, n = 64), those with levels of 50-2000 copies/mL (viremic controllers, n = 60); we also examined HIV-specific T cell and antibody responses as well as host genetics for patients with levels of >10,000 copies/mL (chronic progressors, n = 30).
CD8+ T cells from both controller groups preferentially target Gag over other proteins in the context of diverse HLA class I alleles, whereas responses are more broadly distributed in persons with progressive infection. Elite controllers represent a distinct group of individuals who have significantly more CD4 and CD8 T cells that secrete interferon-gamma and interleukin-2 and lower levels of HIV-neutralizing antibodies. Individual responses were quite heterogeneous, and none of the parameters evaluated was uniquely associated with the ability to control viremia.
Elite controllers are a distinct group, even when compared to persons with low level viremia, but they exhibit marked genetic and immunologic heterogeneity. Even low-level viremia among HIV controllers was associated with measurable T cell dysfunction, which has implications for current prophylactic vaccine strategies.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2008 · The Journal of Infectious Diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The accurate identification of HIV-specific T cell responses is important for determining the relationship between immune response, viral control, and disease progression. HIV-specific immune responses are usually measured using peptide sets based on consensus sequences, which frequently miss responses to regions where test set and infecting virus differ. In this study, we report the design of a peptide test set with significantly increased coverage of HIV sequence diversity by including alternative amino acids at variable positions during the peptide synthesis step. In an IFN-gamma ELISpot assay, these "toggled" peptides detected HIV-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell responses of significantly higher breadth and magnitude than matched consensus peptides. The observed increases were explained by a closer match of the toggled peptides to the autologous viral sequence. Toggled peptides therefore afford a cost-effective and significantly more complete view of the host immune response to HIV and are directly applicable to other variable pathogens.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2007 · The Journal of Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In progressive viral infection, antiviral T cell function is impaired by poorly understood mechanisms. Here we report that the inhibitory immunoregulatory receptor CTLA-4 was selectively upregulated in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific CD4(+) T cells but not CD8(+) T cells in all categories of HIV-infected subjects evaluated, with the exception of rare people able to control viremia in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. CTLA-4 expression correlated positively with disease progression and negatively with the capacity of CD4(+) T cells to produce interleukin 2 in response to viral antigen. Most HIV-specific CD4(+) T cells coexpressed CTLA-4 and another inhibitory immunoregulatory receptor, PD-1. In vitro blockade of CTLA-4 augmented HIV-specific CD4(+) T cell function. These data, indicating a reversible immunoregulatory pathway selectively associated with CD4(+) T cell dysfunction, provide a potential target for immunotherapy in HIV-infected patients.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2007 · Nature Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Functional impairment of T cells is characteristic of many chronic mouse and human viral infections. The inhibitory receptor programmed death 1 (PD-1; also known as PDCD1), a negative regulator of activated T cells, is markedly upregulated on the surface of exhausted virus-specific CD8 T cells in mice. Blockade of this pathway using antibodies against the PD ligand 1 (PD-L1, also known as CD274) restores CD8 T-cell function and reduces viral load. To investigate the role of PD-1 in a chronic human viral infection, we examined PD-1 expression on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific CD8 T cells in 71 clade-C-infected people who were naive to anti-HIV treatments, using ten major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I tetramers specific for frequently targeted epitopes. Here we report that PD-1 is significantly upregulated on these cells, and expression correlates with impaired HIV-specific CD8 T-cell function as well as predictors of disease progression: positively with plasma viral load and inversely with CD4 T-cell count. PD-1 expression on CD4 T cells likewise showed a positive correlation with viral load and an inverse correlation with CD4 T-cell count, and blockade of the pathway augmented HIV-specific CD4 and CD8 T-cell function. These data indicate that the immunoregulatory PD-1/PD-L1 pathway is operative during a persistent viral infection in humans, and define a reversible defect in HIV-specific T-cell function. Moreover, this pathway of reversible T-cell impairment provides a potential target for enhancing the function of exhausted T cells in chronic HIV infection.