The human fetal immune system is naturally exposed to maternal allogeneic cells, maternal antibodies, and pathogens. As such, it is faced with a considerable challenge with respect to the balance between immune reactivity and tolerance. Here, we show that fetal natural killer (NK) cells differentiate early in utero and are highly responsive to cytokines and antibody-mediated stimulation but respond poorly to HLA class I–negative target cells. Strikingly, expression of killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) did not educate fetal NK cells but rendered them hyporesponsive to target cells lacking HLA class I. In addition, fetal NK cells were highly susceptible to TGF-β–mediated suppression, and blocking of TGF-β signaling enhanced fetal NK cell responses to target cells. Our data demonstrate that KIR-mediated hyporesponsiveness and TGF-β–mediated suppression are major factors determining human fetal NK cell hyporesponsiveness to HLA class I–negative target cells and provide a potential mechanism for fetal-maternal tolerance in utero. Finally, our results provide a basis for understanding the role of fetal NK cells in pregnancy complications in which NK cells could be involved, for example, during in utero infections and anti-RhD–induced fetal anemia.
An estimated 10–20 million individuals are infected with the retrovirus human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). While the majority of these individuals remain asymptomatic, 0.3-4% develop a neurodegenerative inflammatory disease, termed HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). HAM/TSP results in the progressive demyelination of the central nervous system and is a differential diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). The etiology of HAM/TSP is unclear, but evidence points to a role for CNS-inflitrating T-cells in pathogenesis. Recently, the HTLV-1-Tax protein has been shown to induce transcription of the human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) families W, H and K. Intriguingly, numerous studies have implicated these same HERV families in MS, though this association remains controversial.
Here, we explore the hypothesis that HTLV-1-infection results in the induction of HERV antigen expression and the elicitation of HERV-specific T-cells responses which, in turn, may be reactive against neurons and other tissues. PBMC from 15 HTLV-1-infected subjects, 5 of whom presented with HAM/TSP, were comprehensively screened for T-cell responses to overlapping peptides spanning HERV-K(HML-2) Gag and Env. In addition, we screened for responses to peptides derived from diverse HERV families, selected based on predicted binding to predicted optimal epitopes. We observed a lack of responses to each of these peptide sets.
Thus, although the limited scope of our screening prevents us from conclusively disproving our hypothesis, the current study does not provide data supporting a role for HERV-specific T-cell responses in HTLV-1 associated immunopathology.
HTLV-I; Human endogenous retrovirus; T-cells; HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis
Previous genetic and functional studies have implicated the human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K) dUTPase located within the PSORS1 locus in the MHC region as a candidate psoriasis gene. Here, we describe a variant discovery and case-control association study of HERV-K dUTPase variants in 708 psoriasis cases and 349 healthy controls. Five common HERV-K dUTPase variants were found to be highly associated with psoriasis, with the strongest association occurring at the missense SNP rs3134774 (K158R, p=3.28 × 10-15, OR=2.36 [1.91-2.92]). After adjusting the association of the HERV-K dUTPase variants for the potential confounding effects of HLA alleles associated with psoriasis, the HERV-K SNPs rs9264082 and rs3134774 remained significantly associated. Haplotype analysis revealed that HERV-K haplotypes containing the non-risk alleles for rs3134774 and rs9264082 significantly reduced the risk of psoriasis. Functional testing showed higher antibody responses against recombinant HERV-K dUTPase in psoriasis patients compared to controls (p<0.05), as well as higher T-cell responses against a single HERV-K dUTPase peptide (p<0.05). Our data support an independent role for the HERV-K dUTPase on psoriasis susceptibility, and suggest the need for additional studies to clarify the role of this dUTPase in the pathogenesis of psoriasis.
Chronic stress is associated with negative health outcomes and is linked with neuroendocrine changes, deleterious effects on innate and adaptive immunity, and central nervous system neuropathology. Although stress management is commonly advocated clinically, there is insufficient mechanistic understanding of how decreasing stress affects disease pathogenesis. Therefore, we have developed a “calm mouse model” with caging enhancements designed to reduce murine stress. Male BALB/c mice were divided into four groups: control (Cntl), standard caging; calm (Calm), large caging to reduce animal density, a cardboard nest box for shelter, paper nesting material to promote innate nesting behavior, and a polycarbonate tube to mimic tunneling; control exercise (Cntl Ex), standard caging with a running wheel, known to reduce stress; and calm exercise (Calm Ex), calm caging with a running wheel. Calm, Cntl Ex and Calm Ex animals exhibited significantly less corticosterone production than Cntl animals. We also observed changes in spleen mass, and in vitro splenocyte studies demonstrated that Calm Ex animals had innate and adaptive immune responses that were more sensitive to acute handling stress than those in Cntl. Calm animals gained greater body mass than Cntl, although they had similar food intake, and we also observed changes in body composition, using magnetic resonance imaging. Together, our results suggest that the Calm mouse model represents a promising approach to studying the biological effects of stress reduction in the context of health and in conjunction with existing disease models.
Cytokine immunotherapy is being evaluated as adjunct treatment in infectious diseases. The effects on innate and adaptive immunity in vivo are insufficiently known. Here, we investigate whether combination treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) and IL-2 of patients with primary HIV-1 infection induces sustained increases in circulating NKT cell and NK cell numbers and effector functions, and investigate how changes are coordinated in the two compartments. Patients with primary HIV-1 infection starting ART were analyzed for numbers, phenotype, and function of NKT cells, NK cells and dendritic cells (DCs) in peripheral blood before, during and after IL-2 treatment. NKT cells expanded during IL-2 treatment, as expected from previous studies. However, their response to α-galactosyl ceramide antigen were retained but not boosted. Myeloid DCs did not change their numbers or CD1d-expression during treatment. In contrast, the NK cell compartment responded with rapid expansion of the CD56dim effector subset, and enhanced IFNγ production. Expansions of NKT cells and NK cells retracted back towards baseline values at 12 months after IL-2 treatment ended. In summary, NKT cells and NK cells respond to IL-2 treatment with different kinetics. Effects on cellular function are distinct between the cell types, and the effects appear to not be sustained after IL-2 treatment ends. These results improve our understanding of the effects of cytokine immunotherapy on innate cellular immunity in early HIV-1 infection.
In the USA, most HIV-1 infected children are on antiretroviral drug regimens, with many individuals surviving through adolescence and into adulthood. The course of HIV-1 infection in these children is variable, and understudied.
We determined whether qualitative differences in immune cell subsets could explain a slower disease course in long term survivors with no evidence of immune suppression (LTS-NS; CD4%≥25%) compared to those with severe immune suppression (LTS-SS; CD4%≤15%). Subjects in the LTS-NS group had significantly higher frequencies of naïve (CCR7+CD45RA+) and central memory (CCR7+CD45RA−) CD4+ T cells compared to LTS-SS subjects (p = 0.0005 and <0.0001, respectively). Subjects in the rapid progressing group had significantly higher levels of CD4+ TEMRA (CCR7−CD45RA+) cells compared to slow progressing subjects (p<0.0001).
Rapid disease progression in vertical infection is associated with significantly higher levels of CD4+ TEMRA (CCR7−CD45RA+) cells.
Human endogenous retrovirus (HERV)-specific T cell responses in HIV-1-infected adults have been reported. Whether HERV-specific immunity exists in vertically HIV-1-infected children is unknown. We performed a cross-sectional analysis of HERV-specific T cell responses in 42 vertically HIV-1-infected children. HERV (-H, -K, and -L family)-specific T cell responses were identified in 26 of 42 subjects, with the greatest magnitude observed for the responses to HERV-L. These HERV-specific T cell responses were inversely correlated with the HIV-1 plasma viral load and positively correlated with CD4+ T cell counts. These data indicate that HERV-specific T cells may participate in controlling HIV-1 replication and that certain highly conserved HERV-derived proteins may serve as promising therapeutic vaccine targets in HIV-1-infected children.
Exceedingly high viral loads and rapid loss of CD4+ T cells in all tissue compartments is a hallmark of acute HIV-1 infection, which is often accompanied by clinical symptoms, such as fever, maculopapular rash and/or lymphadenopathy. The resolution of the clinical symptoms, and the subsequent decrease of plasma viremia are associated with the emergence of HIV-1-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses. The remarkable early inhibition of viremia by CD8+ T cells appears to be precipitated by only a limited number of specific CD8+ T cell responses, and the plasma viremia is reduced to a “set point” level. Over time the breadth and magnitude of CD8+ T cell responses increase, but without a change in the control of viral replication or further reduction in the viral set point. Moreover, the early viral set point, consequent upon the first CD8+ T cell responses, is highly predictive for the later course of disease progression. Thus, HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell responses in acute HIV-1 infection appear to be uniquely able to efficiently suppress viral replication, while CD8+ T cell responses generated in the chronic phase of the infection appear often impaired.
HIV-1 vertically infected children in the USA are living into adolescence and beyond with the widespread use of antiretroviral drugs. These patients exhibit striking differences in the rate of HIV-1 disease progression which could provide insights into mechanisms of control. We hypothesized that differences in the pattern of immunodomination including breadth, magnitude and polyfunctionality of HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cell response could partially explain differences in progression rate.
In this study, we mapped, quantified, and assessed the functionality of these responses against individual HIV-1 Gag peptides in 58 HIV-1 vertically infected adolescents. Subjects were divided into two groups depending upon the rate of disease progression: adolescents with a sustained CD4%≥25 were categorized as having no immune suppression (NS), and those with CD4%≤15 categorized as having severe immune suppression (SS). We observed differences in the area of HIV-1-Gag to which the two groups made responses. In addition, subjects who expressed the HLA- B*57 or B*42 alleles were highly likely to restrict their immunodominant response through these alleles. There was a significantly higher frequency of naïve CD8+ T cells in the NS subjects (p = 0.0066) compared to the SS subjects. In contrast, there were no statistically significant differences in any other CD8+ T cell subsets. The differentiation profiles and multifunctionality of Gag-specific CD8+ T cells, regardless of immunodominance, also failed to demonstrate meaningful differences between the two groups.
Together, these data suggest that, at least in vertically infected adolescents, the region of HIV-1-Gag targeted by CD8+ T cells and the magnitude of that response relative to other responses may have more importance on the rate of disease progression than their qualitative effector functions.
HERV-K113 and HERV-K115 have been considered to be among the youngest HERVs because they are the only known full-length proviruses that are insertionally polymorphic and maintain the open reading frames of their coding genes. However, recent data suggest that HERV-K113 is at least 800,000 years old, and HERV-K115 even older. A systematic study of HERV-K HML2 members to identify HERVs that may have infected the human genome in the more recent evolutionary past is lacking. Therefore, we sought to determine how recently HERVs were exogenous and infectious by examining sequence variation in the long terminal repeat (LTR) regions of all full-length HERV-K loci. We used the traditional method of inter-LTR comparison to analyze all full length HERV-Ks and determined that two insertions, HERV-K106 and HERV-K116 have no differences between their 5′ and 3′ LTR sequences, suggesting that these insertions were endogenized in the recent evolutionary past. Among these insertions with no sequence differences between their LTR regions, HERV-K106 had the most intact viral sequence structure. Coalescent analysis of HERV-K106 3′ LTR sequences representing 51 ethnically diverse individuals suggests that HERV-K106 integrated into the human germ line approximately 150,000 years ago, after the emergence of anatomically modern humans.
We analyzed immune responses in chronically HIV-infected individuals who took part in a treatment interruption (TI) trial designed for patients who initiated anti-retroviral therapy within 6 months of seroconversion. In the two subjects that exhibited the best viral control, we detected CD8+ T cell responses against 1-2 Gag epitopes during the early weeks of TI and a subsequent increase in the number of epitopes recognized by the later time points. Each of these subjects developed mutations within the epitopes targeted by the highest magnitude responses. In the subject with the worst viral control, we detected responses against two Gag epitopes throughout the entire TI and no Gag mutations. The magnitude of these responses increased dramatically with time, greatly exceeding those detected in the virologic controllers. The highest levels of contemporaneous autologous neutralizing antibody activity were detected in the virologic controllers, and a subsequent escape mutation developed within the envelope gene of one controller that abrogated the response. These data suggest that immune escape mutations are a sign of viral control during TI, and that the absence of immune escape mutations in the presence of high-levels of viral replication indicates the lack of an effective host immune response.
The complexity of immunoregulation has focused attention on the CD4+ T “suppressor” regulatory cell (Treg), which helps maintain balance between immunity and tolerance. An immunoregulatory T cell population that upon activation amplifies cellular immune responses was described in murine models more than thirty years ago. However, no study has yet identified a naturally occurring T “inducer” cell type. Here, we report that the ectoenzyme CD39/NTPDase1 (ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 1) helps to delineate a novel population of human “inducer” CD4+ T cells (TInd) that significantly increases the proliferation and cytokine production of responder T cells in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, this unique TInd cell subset produces a distinct repertoire of cytokines in comparison to the other CD4+ T cell subsets. We propose that this novel CD4+ T cell population counterbalances the suppressive activity of suppressor Treg cells in peripheral blood and serves as a calibrator of immunoregulation.
CD4; CD39; Regulatory T cells; FOXP3; CD127; CD25; proliferation; Inducer; cytokine; IFN-γ; IL-6; IL-10; TNF-α; GM-CSF; ATP
Objective: The majority of infants born, in developed countries, to HIV-1 positive women are exposed to the HIV-1 virus in utero or peri/post-partum, but are born uninfected. We, and others, have previously shown HIV-1 specific T cell responses in HIV-1 exposed seronegative (HESN) neonates/infants. Our objective in this study was to examine the rate of decay in their HIV-1 specific T cell response over time from birth. Design: Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of HIV-1 specific T cell responses in HESN infants were performed. Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated from 18 HIV-1 DNA PCR negative infants born to HIV-1 infected mothers receiving care at the Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx, NY, USA. PBMC were examined for T cell responses to HIV-1 antigens by interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELISPOT. Results: PBMC from 15 HESN neonates/infants were analyzed. We observed a decay of HIV-1 specific T cell responses from birth at a rate of −0.599 spot forming unit/106 cells per day, with a median half-life decay rate of 21.38 weeks (13.39–115.8). Conclusion: Our results support the dynamic nature of T cell immunity in the context of a developing immune system. The disparate rate of decay with studies of adults placed on antiretroviral drugs suggests that antigen specific T cell responses are driven by the natural rate of decay of the T cell sub-populations themselves.
HIV-1; exposed seronegative; vertically exposed; neonates; T cells
Common variable immunodeficiency disorder (CVID) is the commonest cause of primary antibody failure in adults and children, and characterized clinically by recurrent bacterial infections and autoimmune manifestations. Several innate immune defects have been described in CVID, but no study has yet investigated the frequency, phenotype or function of the key regulatory cell population, natural killer T (NKT) cells. We measured the frequencies and subsets of NKT cells in patients with CVID and compared these to healthy controls. Our results show a skewing of NKT cell subsets, with CD4+ NKT cells at higher frequencies, and CD8+ NKT cells at lower frequencies. However, these cells were highly activated and expression CD161. The NKT cells had a higher expression of CCR5 and concomitantly expression of CCR5+CD69+CXCR6 suggesting a compensation of the remaining population of NKT cells for rapid effector action.
Little is known about the manipulation of IL-17 producing CD4+ T cells (TH17) on a per-cell basis in humans in vivo. Previous studies on the effects of IL-2 on IL-17 secretion in non-HIV models have shown divergent results. We hypothesized that IL-2 would mediate changes in IL-17 levels among recently HIV-1-infected adults receiving anti-retroviral therapy. We measured cytokine T cell responses to CD3/CD28, HIV-1 Gag, and CMV pp65 stimulation, and changes in multiple CD4+ T cell subsets. Those who received IL-2 showed a robust expansion of naive and total CD4+ T cell counts and T-reg counts. However, after IL-2 treatment, the frequency of TH17 cells declined, while counts of TH17 cells did not change due to an expansion of the CD4+ naïve T cell population (CD27+CD45RA+). Counts of HIV-1 Gag-specific T cells declined modestly, but CMV pp65 and CD3/CD28 stimulated populations did not change. Hence, in contrast with recent studies, our results suggest IL-2 is not a potent in vivo regulator of TH17 cell populations in HIV-1 disease. However, IL-2-mediated T-reg expansions may selectively reduce responses to certain antigen-specific populations, such as HIV-1 Gag.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10875-010-9432-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Human; T cells; HIV-1; cytokines; interleukin-2; interleukin-17; T-regs; anti-retroviral therapy
Natural killer (NK) cells can directly recognize virus-infected cells. Here, we demonstrate that NK cells also produce interferon (IFN)-γ in an HIV-1-specific, T cell-dependent manner. After stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from HIV-1-infected individuals with HIV-1-derived peptides, up to half of the IFN-γ-producing PBMCs are NK cells. These results indicate that T cell-dependent NK cell IFN-γ production can be important for immune control of HIV-1, and have implications for the interpretation of data from vaccine trials using ELISPOT and ELISA.
Recent studies have indicated that regulatory T cells contribute to the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-related immune pathogenesis. However, it is not clear whether T cells with suppressive properties reside within the HIV-1-specific T-cell population. Here, peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV-1-infected individuals were stimulated with a 15-mer Gag peptide pool, and HIV-1-specific T cells were enriched by virtue of their secretion of interleukin (IL)-10 or interferon (IFN)-γ using immunomagnetic cell-sorting. Neither the IL-10-secreting cells nor the IFN-γ-secreting cells expressed the regulatory T-cell marker forkhead box P3 (FOXP3), yet the IL-10-secreting cells potently suppressed anti-CD3/CD28-induced CD4+ as well as CD8+ T-cell proliferative responses. As shown by intracellular cytokine staining, IL-10- and IFN-γ-producing T cells represent distinct subsets of the HIV-1-specific T cells. Our data collectively suggest that functionally defined HIV-1-specific T-cell subsets harbor potent immunoregulatory properties that may contribute to HIV-1-associated T-cell dysfunction.
HIV-1; HIV Infections; Interleukin-10; T-Lymphocytes; Regulatory; HIV Antigens
IL-17 is proinflammatory cytokine secreted by a unique CD4+ T (Th17) cell subset and proposed to play a role in host defense. We hypothesized that Th17 cells are lost in HIV-1 infection. HIV-1-infected children with plasma viremia below 50 copies/ml had IL-17 production, whereas those with detectable viremia had minimal secretion. These results imply viral-mediated destruction or impairment of Th17 cells and argue for complete suppression of viremia for reconstitution of Th17 cells.
We measured T-cell responses to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) cryptic epitopes encoded by regions of the viral genome not normally translated into viral proteins. T-cell responses to cryptic epitopes and to regions normally spliced out of the HIV-1 viral proteins Rev and Tat were detected in HIV-1-infected subjects.
Tetherin/BST-2 is a recently-identified potent restriction factor in human cells that restricts HIV particle release following particle formation and budding at the plasma membrane. Vpu counteracts tetherin's restriction of particle release in a manner that has not yet been fully defined. We recently identified calcium-modulating cyclophilin ligand (CAML) as a Vpu-interacting protein that also restricts particle release. We hypothesized that CAML may act to enhance tetherin-mediated restriction of particle release and thereby explain how two distinct factors could be responsible for Vpu-responsive restriction.
Endogenous levels of tetherin in human cells correlated well with their restriction pattern and responsiveness to Vpu, while levels of cellular CAML protein did not. Tetherin but not CAML was inducible by interferon in a wide variety of human cells. Stable depletion of human CAML in restrictive HeLa cells had no effect on cell surface levels of tetherin, and failed to relieve tetherin-mediated restriction. Stable depletion of tetherin from HeLa cells, in contrast, rendered HeLa cells permissive and Vpu-unresponsive. Tetherin but not CAML expression in permissive human cells rendered them restrictive and Vpu responsive. Depletion of CAML had no influence on cell surface levels of tetherin.
We conclude that tetherin restricts particle release and does not require CAML for this effect. Furthermore, these results do not support a major role for CAML in restricting HIV particle release in human cells.
Cytotoxic T cells detect intracellular pathogens by surveying peptide loaded MHC class I molecules (pMHC I) on the cell surface. Effective immune surveillance also requires infected cells to present pMHC I promptly before viral progeny can escape. Rapid pMHC I presentation apparently occurs because infected cells can synthesize and present peptides from antigenic precursors called defective ribosomal products (DRiPs). The molecular characteristics of DRiPs are not known.
Here, using a novel method for detecting antigenic precursors and proteolytic intermediates, we tracked the synthesis and processing of Epstein-Barr Virus encoded nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA1). We find that ribosomes initiated translation appropriately, but rapidly produced DRiPs representing ∼120 amino acid truncated EBNA1 polypeptides by premature termination. Moreover, specific sequences in EBNA1 mRNA strongly inhibited the generation of truncated DRiPs and pMHC I presentation.
Our results reveal the first characterization of virus DRiPs as truncated translation products. Furthermore, production of EBNA1-derived DRiPs is down-regulated in cells, possibly limiting the antigenicity of EBNA1.
West Nile virus (WNV) causes asymptomatic infection in most humans, but for undefined reasons, approximately 20% of immunocompetent individuals develop West Nile fever, a potentially debilitating febrile illness, and approximately 1% develop neuroinvasive disease syndromes. Notably, since its emergence in 1999, WNV has become the leading cause of epidemic viral encephalitis in North America. We hypothesized that CD4+ Tregs might be differentially regulated in subjects with symptomatic compared with those with asymptomatic WNV infection. Here, we show that in 32 blood donors with acute WNV infection, Tregs expanded significantly in the 3 months after index (RNA+) donations in all subjects. Symptomatic donors exhibited lower Treg frequencies from 2 weeks through 1 year after index donation yet did not show differences in systemic T cell or generalized inflammatory responses. In parallel prospective experimental studies, symptomatic WNV-infected mice also developed lower Treg frequencies compared with asymptomatic mice at 2 weeks after infection. Moreover, Treg-deficient mice developed lethal WNV infection at a higher rate than controls. Together, these results suggest that higher levels of peripheral Tregs after infection protect against severe WNV disease in immunocompetent animals and humans.