Transcriptional profiling of CD4 T-cells in HIV-1 infected patients
ABSTRACT: HIV-1 elite controllers maintain undetectable levels of viral replication in the absence of antiretroviral therapy, but their underlying immunological and virological characteristics may vary. Here, we used a whole-genome transcriptional profiling approach to characterize gene expression signatures of CD4 T cells from an unselected cohort of elite controllers. In the majority of elite controllers, transcriptional profiles were similar to HAART-treated patients, while being different from HIV-1 negative persons. Yet, a smaller proportion of elite controllers showed an opposite gene expression pattern that was indistinguishable from HIV-1 negative persons, but different from HAART-treated individuals. Elite controllers with this gene expression signature had significantly higher CD4 T cell counts, smaller levels of HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell responses and tended to have lower residual HIV-1 viremia as determined by ultra-sensitive single-digit PCR, but did not differ from other elite controllers in terms of HLA class I alleles, age or sex. Thus, these data identify a specific subgroup of elite controllers whose clinical, immunological and gene expression characteristics approximate those of HIV-1 negative persons. Overall design: PBMC from study persons were stained with monoclonal antibodies against CD3, CD4 and HLA-DR, and subsequently subjected to live sorting at 70 psi using an ARIA cell sorting device (Becton Dickinson) located in a specifically designated biosafety cabinet. Following mRNA extraction form the sorted cells (RNAeasy kit, Qiagen), whole genome transcriptional profiling was performed using WG-DASL microarrays (Illumina) according to standard protocols. We included an unselected cohort of elite controllers (n = 12) and two background populations of HIV-1 negative persons (n = 9) and HIV-1 infected persons effectively treated with HAART (n = 14). Four replicates were included in the study.
Project description:HIV-1 elite controllers maintain undetectable levels of viral replication in the absence of antiretroviral therapy, but their underlying immunological and virological characteristics may vary. Here, we used a whole-genome transcriptional profiling approach to characterize gene expression signatures of CD4 T cells from an unselected cohort of elite controllers. In the majority of elite controllers, transcriptional profiles were similar to HAART-treated patients, while being different from HIV-1 negative persons. Yet, a smaller proportion of elite controllers showed an opposite gene expression pattern that was indistinguishable from HIV-1 negative persons, but different from HAART-treated individuals. Elite controllers with this gene expression signature had significantly higher CD4 T cell counts, smaller levels of HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell responses and tended to have lower residual HIV-1 viremia as determined by ultra-sensitive single-digit PCR, but did not differ from other elite controllers in terms of HLA class I alleles, age or sex. Thus, these data identify a specific subgroup of elite controllers whose clinical, immunological and gene expression characteristics approximate those of HIV-1 negative persons. PBMC from study persons were stained with monoclonal antibodies against CD3, CD4 and HLA-DR, and subsequently subjected to live sorting at 70 psi using an ARIA cell sorting device (Becton Dickinson) located in a specifically designated biosafety cabinet. Following mRNA extraction form the sorted cells (RNAeasy kit, Qiagen), whole genome transcriptional profiling was performed using WG-DASL microarrays (Illumina) according to standard protocols. We included an unselected cohort of elite controllers (n = 12) and two background populations of HIV-1 negative persons (n = 9) and HIV-1 infected persons effectively treated with HAART (n = 14). Four replicates were included in the study.
Project description:Elite controllers spontaneously control HIV-1 replication, which in many cases is associated with preservation of normal CD4 T-cell counts. However, a subset of elite controllers has progressive CD4 T-cell losses despite undetectable viral loads, for reasons that remain undefined. Here, we assessed mechanisms of CD4 T-cell homeostasis in elite controllers with progressive vs. nonprogressive HIV-1 disease courses.Flow cytometry assays were used to determine the proliferation, activation and apoptosis levels of naive T cells in elite controllers with high or low CD4 T-cell counts and reference cohorts of HIV-1-negative and HAART-treated persons. Thymic output was measured by single-joint T-cell receptor excision circle (sjTREC)/? T-cell receptor excision circle (?TREC) ratios, and the frequency of circulating recent thymic emigrants was flow cytometrically determined by surface expression of protein tyrosine kinase 7.Proportions of naive T cells in elite controllers were severely reduced and closely resemble those of HIV-1 patients with progressive disease. Despite reductions in naive T cells, most elite controllers were able to maintain normal total CD4 T-cell counts by preservation of uncompromised thymic function in conjunction with extrathymic processes that led to elevated levels of circulating recent thymic emigrants. In contrast, elite controllers with low CD4 T-cell counts had reduced thymic output that mirrored thymic dysfunction during untreated progressive HIV-1 infection.These results indicate that both thymic and extrathymic mechanisms contribute to CD4 T-cell maintenance in elite controllers and support the idea that CD4 T-cell homeostasis and control of viral replication are distinct but frequently coinciding processes.
Project description:A small percentage of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals, termed elite controllers, are able to spontaneously control HIV replication in blood. As the gastrointestinal mucosa is an important site of HIV transmission and replication as well as CD4+ T-cell depletion, it is important to understand the nature of the immune responses occurring in this compartment. Although the role of the HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell responses in mucosal tissues has been described, few studies have investigated the role of mucosal HIV-specific CD4+ T cells. In this study, we assessed HIV-specific CD4+ T-cell responses in the rectal mucosa of 28 "controllers" (viral load [VL] of <2,000 copies/ml), 14 "noncontrollers" (VL of >10,000 copies/ml), and 10 individuals on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) (VL of <75 copies/ml). Controllers had higher-magnitude Gag-specific mucosal CD4+ T-cell responses than individuals on HAART (P<0.05), as measured by their ability to produce gamma interferon (IFN-?), interleukin-2 (IL-2), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-?), and macrophage inflammatory protein 1? (MIP-1?). The frequency of polyfunctional mucosal CD4+ T cells was also higher in controllers than in noncontrollers or individuals on HAART (P<0.05). Controllers with the strongest HIV-specific CD4+ T-cell responses possessed class II HLA alleles, HLA-DRB1*13 and/or HLA-DQB1*06, previously associated with a nonprogression phenotype. Strikingly, individuals with both HLA-DRB1*13 and HLA-DQB1*06 had highly polyfunctional mucosal CD4+ T cells compared to individuals with HLA-DQB1*06 alone or other class II alleles. The frequency of polyfunctional CD4+ T cells in rectal mucosa positively correlated with the magnitude of the mucosal CD8+ T-cell response (Spearman's r=0.43, P=0.005), suggesting that increased CD4+ T-cell "help" may be important in maintaining strong CD8+ T-cell responses in the gut of HIV controllers.
Project description:The majority of people living with HIV require antiretroviral therapy (ART) for controlling viral replication, however there are rare HIV controllers who spontaneously and durably control HIV in the absence of treatment. Understanding what mediates viral control in these individuals has provided us with insights into the immune mechanisms that may be important to induce for a vaccine or functional cure for HIV. To date, few African elite controllers from high incidence settings have been described. We identified virological controllers from the CAPRISA 002 cohort of HIV-1 subtype C infected women in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, two (1%) of whom were elite controllers. We examined the genetic, clinical, immunological and virological characteristics of these two elite HIV controllers in detail, to determine whether they exhibit features of putative viral control similar to those described for elite controllers reported in the literature.In this case report, we present clinical features, CD4+ T cell and viral load trajectories for two African women over 7 years of HIV infection. Viral load became undetectable 10 months after HIV infection in Elite Controller 1 (EC1), and after 6 weeks in Elite Controller 2 (EC2), and remained undetectable for the duration of follow-up, in the absence of ART. Both elite controllers expressed multiple HLA Class I and II haplotypes previously associated with slower disease progression (HLA-A*74:01, HLA-B*44:03, HLA-B*81:01, HLA-B*57:03, HLA-DRB1*13). Fitness assays revealed that both women were infected with replication competent viruses, and both expressed higher mRNA levels of p21, a host restriction factor associated with viral control. HIV-specific T cell responses were examined using flow cytometry. EC1 mounted high frequency HIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses, including a B*81:01-restricted Gag TL9 response. Unusually, EC2 had evidence of pre-infection HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses.We identified some features typical of elite controllers, including high magnitude HIV-specific responses and beneficial HLA. In addition, we made the atypical finding of pre-infection HIV-specific immunity in one elite controller, that may have contributed to very early viral control. This report highlights the importance of studying HIV controllers in high incidence settings.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The mechanisms behind natural control of HIV replication are still unclear, and several studies pointed that elite controllers (ECs) are a heterogeneous group. METHODS:We performed analyses of virologic, genetic, and immunologic parameters of HIV-1 controllers groups: (1) ECs (viral load, <80 copies/mL); (2) ebbing elite controllers (EECs; transient viremia/blips); and viremic controllers (VCs; detectable viremia, <5000 copies/mL). Untreated noncontrollers (NCs), patients under suppressive highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and HIV-1-negative individuals were analyzed as controls. RESULTS:Total and integrated HIV-1 DNA for EC were significantly lower than for NC and HAART groups. 2-LTR circles were detected in EEC (3/5) and VC (6/7) but not in EC. Although EC and EEC maintain normal T-cell counts over time, some VC displayed negative CD4 T-cell slopes. VC and EEC showed a higher percentage of activated CD8 T cells and microbial translocation than HIV-1-negative controls. EC displayed a weaker Gag/Nef IFN-? T-cell response and a significantly lower proportion of anti-HIV IgG antibodies than EEC, VC, and NC groups. CONCLUSION:Transient/persistent low-level viremia in HIV controllers may have an impact on immunologic and virologic profiles. Classified HIV controller patients taking into account their virologic profile may decrease the heterogeneity of HIV controllers cohorts, which may help to clarify the mechanisms associated to the elite control of HIV.
Project description:Elite controllers represent a unique group of HIV-1-infected persons with undetectable HIV-1 replication in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. However, the mechanisms contributing to effective viral immune defense in these patients remain unclear. Here, we show that compared with HIV-1 progressors and HIV-1-negative persons, CD4+ T cells from elite controllers are less susceptible to HIV-1 infection. This partial resistance to HIV-1 infection involved less effective reverse transcription and mRNA transcription from proviral DNA and was associated with strong and selective upregulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 (also known as cip-1 and waf-1). Experimental blockade of p21 in CD4+ T cells from elite controllers resulted in a marked increase of viral reverse transcripts and mRNA production and led to higher enzymatic activities of cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9), which serves as a transcriptional coactivator of HIV-1 gene expression. This suggests that p21 acts as a barrier against HIV-1 infection in CD4+ T cells from elite controllers by inhibiting a cyclin-dependent kinase required for effective HIV-1 replication. These data demonstrate a mechanism of host resistance to HIV-1 in elite controllers and may open novel perspectives for clinical strategies to prevent or treat HIV-1 infection.
Project description:Elite controllers (ECs) are rare individuals able to naturally control HIV-1 replication below the detection limit of viral load (VL) commercial assays. It is unclear, however, whether ECs might be considered a natural model of a functional cure because some studies have noted CD4+ T cell depletion and disease progression associated with abnormally high levels of immune activation and/or inflammation in this group. Here, we propose the use of immunological parameters to identify HIV-1 ECs that could represent the best model of a functional cure. We compared plasma levels of six inflammatory biomarkers (IP-10, IL-18, sCD163, sCD14, CRP, and IL-6) and percentages of activated CD8+ T cells (CD38+HLA-DR+) between 15 ECs [8 with persistent undetectable viremia (persistent elite controllers) and 7 with occasional viral blips (ebbing elite controllers)], 13 viremic controllers (VCs-plasma VL between 51 and 2,000?RNA copies/mL), and 18 HIV-1 infected patients in combined antiretroviral therapy, with suppressed viremia, and 18 HIV-uninfected controls (HIV-neg). The two groups of ECs presented inflammation and activation profiles similar to HIV-neg individuals, and there was no evidence of CD4+ T cell decline over time. VCs, by contrast, had higher levels of IL-18, IP-10, and CRP and a lower CD4/CD8 ratio than that of HIV-neg (P?<?0.05). Plasma levels of IL-18 and IP-10 correlated positively with CD8+ T cell activation and negatively with both CD4/CD8 and CD4% in HIV-1 controllers. These results suggest that most ECs, defined using stringent criteria in relation to the cutoff level of viremia (?50?copies/mL) and a minimum follow-up time of >5?years, show no evidence of persistent inflammation or immune activation. This study further suggests that plasmatic levels of IL-18/IP-10 combined with the frequency of CD8+CD38+HLA-DR+ T cells can be important biomarkers to identify models of a functional cure among HIV-1 ECs.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Elite controllers, defined as persons maintaining undetectable levels of HIV-1 replication in the absence of antiretroviral therapy, represent living evidence that sustained, natural control of HIV-1 is possible, at least in relatively rare instances. Understanding the complex immunologic and virologic characteristics of these specific patients holds promise for inducing drug-free control of HIV-1 in broader populations of HIV-1 infected patients. DESIGN:We used an unbiased transcriptional profiling approach to characterize CD8+ T cells, the strongest correlate of HIV-1 immune control identified thus far, in a large cohort of elite controllers (n?=?51); highly active antiretrovial therapy (HAART)-treated patients (n?=?32) and HIV-1 negative (n?=?10) served as reference cohorts. METHODS:We isolated mRNA from total CD8+ T cells isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) of each individual followed by microarray analysis of the transcriptional signatures. RESULTS:We observed profound transcriptional differences [590 transcripts, false discovery rate (FDR)-adjusted P?<?0.05] between elite controller and HAART-treated patients. Interestingly, metabolic and signalling pathways governed by mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and eIF2, known for their key roles in regulating cellular growth, proliferation and metabolism, were among the top functions enriched in the differentially expressed genes, suggesting a therapeutically actionable target as a distinguishing feature of spontaneous HIV-1 immune control. A subsequent bootstrapping approach distinguished five different subgroups of elite controller, each characterized by distinct transcriptional signatures. However, despite this marked heterogeneity, differential regulation of mTOR and eIF2 signalling remained the dominant functional pathway in three of these elite controller subgroups. CONCLUSION:These studies suggest that mTOR and eIF2 signalling may play a remarkably universal role for regulating CD8 T-cell function from elite controllers.
Project description:Upon interruption of antiretroviral therapy, HIV-infected patients usually show viral load rebound to pre-treatment levels. Four patients, hereafter referred to as secondary controllers (SC), were identified who initiated therapy during chronic infection and, after stopping treatment, could control virus replication at undetectable levels for more than six months. In the present study we set out to unravel possible viral and immune parameters or mechanisms of this phenomenon by comparing secondary controllers with elite controllers and non-controllers, including patients under HAART. As candidate correlates of protection, virus growth kinetics, levels of intracellular viral markers, several aspects of HIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell function and HIV neutralizing antibodies were investigated. As expected all intracellular viral markers were lower in aviremic as compared to viremic subjects, but in addition both elite and secondary controllers had lower levels of viral unspliced RNA in PBMC as compared to patients on HAART. Ex vivo cultivation of the virus from CD4+ T cells of SC consistently failed in one patient and showed delayed kinetics in the three others. Formal in vitro replication studies of these three viruses showed low to absent growth in two cases and a virus with normal fitness in the third case. T cell responses toward HIV peptides, evaluated in IFN-? ELISPOT, revealed no significant differences in breadth, magnitude or avidity between SC and all other patient groups. Neither was there a difference in polyfunctionality of CD4+ or CD8+ T cells, as evaluated with intracellular cytokine staining. However, secondary and elite controllers showed higher proliferative responses to Gag and Pol peptides. SC also showed the highest level of autologous neutralizing antibodies. These data suggest that higher T cell proliferative responses and lower replication kinetics might be instrumental in secondary viral control in the absence of treatment.
Project description:HIV elite controllers suppress HIV viremia without antiretroviral therapy (ART), yet previous studies demonstrated that elite controllers maintain an activated T-cell phenotype. Chronic immune activation has detrimental consequences and thus ART has been advocated for all elite controllers. However, elite controllers are not a clinically homogenous group. Since CD4% is among the best predictors of AIDS-related events, in the current study, we assessed whether this marker can be used to stratify elite controllers needing ART.Sixteen elite controllers were divided into two groups based on CD4% (EC > 40% and EC ?40%), and T-cell subsets were analyzed for markers of memory/differentiation (CD45RA, CCR7, CD28), activation (CD38/HLA-DR), immunosenescence (CD57), costimulation (CD73, CD28) and exhaustion (PD-1, CD160, Tim-3). Monocyte subsets (CD14, CD16) were also analyzed and sCD14 levels were quantified using ELISA.In the EC group, expression of activation, exhaustion, and immunosensescence markers on T cells were significantly reduced compared with the EC group and similar to the seronegative controls. The EC group expressed higher levels of costimulatory molecules CD28 and CD73 and had lower levels of monocyte activation (HLA-DR expression) with a reduced frequency of inflammatory monocyte (CD14 CD16) subset. Furthermore, the EC group maintained a stable CD4% during a median follow-up of 6 years.Elite controllers with preserved CD4T cells (EC) have normal T-cell and monocyte phenotypes and therefore may have limited benefit from ART. CD4% can be an important marker for evaluating future studies aimed at determining the need for ART in this group of individuals.