HIV-testing algorithms for preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) should be optimized to minimize the risk of drug resistance, the time off PrEP required to evaluate false-positive screening results, and costs and to expedite the start of therapy for those confirmed to be infected. HIV rapid tests (RTs) for anti-HIV antibodies provide results in less than 1 h and can be conducted by nonlicensed staff at the point of care. In many regions, Western blot (WB) testing is required to confirm reactive RT results. WB testing, however, causes delays in diagnosis and adds expense. The iPrEx study evaluated the safety and efficacy of daily oral emtricitabine-tenofovir disoproxil fumarate among HIV-seronegative men and transgender women who have sex with men: HIV infection was assessed with two RTs plus WB confirmation, followed by HIV-1 plasma viral load testing. During the iPrEx study, there were 51,260 HIV status evaluations among 2,499 volunteers using RTs: 142 (0.28%) had concordant positive results (100% were eventually confirmed) and 19 (0.04%) had discordant results among 14 participants; 11 were eventually determined to be HIV infected. A streamlined approach using only one RT to screen and a second RT to confirm (without WB) would have had nearly the same accuracy. Discrepant RT results are best evaluated with nucleic acid testing, which would also increase sensitivity.
Memory stem T cells (TSCM) constitute a long-lived, self-renewing lymphocyte population essential for the maintenance of functional immunity. The hallmarks of HIV-1 pathogenesis are CD4+ T cell depletion and abnormal cellular activation. We investigated the impact of HIV-1 infection on the TSCM compartment, as well as any protective role these cells may have in disease progression, by characterizing this subset in a cohort of 113 subjects with various degrees of viral control on and off highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). We observed that the frequency of CD8+ TSCM was decreased in all individuals with chronic, untreated HIV-1 infection and that HAART had a restorative effect on this subset. In contrast, natural controllers of HIV-1 had the highest absolute number of CD4+ TSCM cells among all of the infected groups. The frequency of CD4+ TSCM predicted higher CD8+ TSCM frequencies, consistent with a role for the CD4+ subset in helping to maintain CD8+ memory T cells. In addition, TSCM appeared to be progenitors for effector T cells (TEM), as these two compartments were inversely correlated. Increased frequencies of CD8+ TSCM predicted lower viral loads, higher CD4+ counts, and less CD8+ T cell activation. Finally, we found that TSCM express the mucosal homing integrin α4β7 and can be identified in gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). The frequency of mucosal CD4+ TSCM was inversely correlated with that in the blood, potentially reflecting the ability of these self-renewing cells to migrate to a crucial site of ongoing viral replication and CD4+ T cell depletion.
IMPORTANCE HIV-1 infection leads to profound impairment of the immune system. TSCM constitute a recently identified lymphocyte subset with stem cell-like qualities, including the ability to generate other memory T cell subtypes, and are therefore likely to play an important role in controlling viral infection. We investigated the relationship between the size of the CD8+ TSCM compartment and HIV-1 disease progression in a cohort of chronically infected individuals. Our results suggest that HAART restores a normal frequency of CD8+ TSCM and that the natural preservation of this subset in the setting of untreated HIV-1 infection is associated with improved viral control and immunity. Therefore, the CD8+ TSCM population may represent a correlate of protection in chronic HIV-1 infection that is directly relevant to the design of T cell-based vaccines, adoptive immunotherapy approaches, or the pharmacologic induction of TSCM.
Dengue fever induces a robust immune response, including massive T cell activation. The level of T cell activation may, however, be associated with more severe disease. In this study, we explored the level of CD8+ T lymphocyte activation in the first six days after onset of symptoms during a DENV2 outbreak in early 2010 on the coast of São Paulo State, Brazil. Using flow cytometry we detected a progressive increase in the percentage of CD8+ T cells in 74 dengue fever cases. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 30 cases were thawed and evaluated using expanded phenotyping. The expansion of the CD8+ T cells was coupled with increased Ki67 expression. Cell activation was observed later in the course of disease, as determined by the expression of the activation markers CD38 and HLA-DR. This increased CD8+ T lymphocyte activation was observed in all memory subsets, but was more pronounced in the effector memory subset, as defined by higher CD38 expression. Our results show that most CD8+ T cell subsets are expanded during DENV2 infection and that the effector memory subset is the predominantly affected sub population.
Dengue is a disease affecting approximately 400 million people annually, especially in tropical and subtropical areas of the globe. The immune response against the dengue virus is still under investigation and it is important to understand why the disease can be fatal in a small proportion of cases. In this work, we explored how an important cell type of the immune system, namely the CD8+ T cell, reacts during dengue infection. Using a method known as flow cytometry, we demonstrated that these cells expand and become highly activated, during the days following the onset of dengue fever symptoms. This expansion is associated with a decreased dengue virus load in the patients’ blood, suggesting that CD8+ T cells play an important role in viral control. Interestingly, we found that a subset of CD8+ T cells, called effector memory, is greatly expanded during dengue infection. Our results are important because they might contribute to the understanding of disease mechanisms during dengue infection and may help in the development of a novel vaccine against dengue.
Meningococcal disease is endemic in Brazil, with periodic outbreaks and case fatality rates reach as high as 18 to 20% of cases. Conjugate vaccines against meningococci are immunogenic in healthy children. However, we have previously shown a poor bactericidal antibody response to a Men C conjugate vaccine in Brazilian HIV-infected children and adolescents after a single vaccine administration. The goal of the present work was to investigate associations between bactericidal antibody response induced by MenC vaccine and the frequency and activation profile (expression of CD38, HLA-DR and CCR5 molecules) of total CD4+ memory T cell sub-populations in HIV-1-infected children and adolescents. Responders to vaccination against MenC had a predominance (about 44%) of CD4+ TINTERMEDIATE subset followed by TTRANSITIONAL memory subset (23 to 26%). Importantly, CD4+ TINT frequency was positively associated with bactericidal antibody response induced by vaccination. The positive correlation persisted despite the observation that the frequency TINT CD38+HLA-DR+ was higher in responders. In contrast, CD4+ TCENTRAL MEMORY (TCM) subset negatively correlated with bactericidal antibodies. In conclusion, these data indicate that less differentiated CD+ T cells, like TCM may be constantly differentiating into intermediate and later differentiated CD4+ T cell subsets. These include CD4 TINT subset which showed a positive association with bactericidal antibodies.
The contribution of host T-cell immunity and HLA class I alleles to the control of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) replication in natural infection is widely recognized. We assessed whether vaccine-induced T-cell immunity, or expression of certain HLA alleles, impacted HIV-1 control after infection in the Step MRKAd5/HIV-1 gag/pol/nef study. Vaccine-induced T cells were associated with reduced plasma viremia, with subjects targeting ≥3 gag peptides presenting with half-log lower mean viral loads than subjects without Gag responses. This effect was stronger in participants infected proximal to vaccination and was independent of our observed association of HLA-B*27, –B*57 and –B*58:01 alleles with lower HIV-1 viremia. These findings support the ability of vaccine-induced T-cell responses to influence postinfection outcome and provide a rationale for the generation of T-cell responses by vaccination to reduce viremia if protection from acquisition is not achieved. Clinical trials identifier: NCT00095576.
HIV-1 vaccine; Step study; Gag-specific T cells; HLA class I alleles
During a dengue outbreak on the Caribbean island Aruba, highly elevated levels of ferritin were detected in dengue virus infected patients. Ferritin is an acute-phase reactant and hyperferritinaemia is a hallmark of diseases caused by extensive immune activation, such as haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether hyperferritinaemia in dengue patients was associated with clinical markers of extensive immune activation and coagulation disturbances.
Levels of ferritin, standard laboratory markers, sIL-2R, IL-18 and coagulation and fibrinolytic markers were determined in samples from patients with uncomplicated dengue in Aruba. Levels of ferritin were significantly increased in dengue patients compared to patients with other febrile illnesses. Moreover, levels of ferritin associated significantly with the occurrence of viraemia. Hyperferritinaemia was also significantly associated with thrombocytopenia, elevated liver enzymes and coagulation disturbances. The results were validated in a cohort of dengue virus infected patients in Brazil. In this cohort levels of ferritin and cytokine profiles were determined. Increased levels of ferritin in dengue virus infected patients in Brazil were associated with disease severity and a pro-inflammatory cytokine profile.
Altogether, we provide evidence that ferritin can be used as a clinical marker to discriminate between dengue and other febrile illnesses. The occurrence of hyperferritinaemia in dengue virus infected patients is indicative for highly active disease resulting in immune activation and coagulation disturbances. Therefore, we recommend that patients with hyperferritinaemia are monitored carefully.
Ferritin is an acute-phase reactant and produced by reticulo-endothelial cells in response to inflammation and infection. In general, ferritin levels are increased in inflammatory conditions, but in this study we found that ferritin levels were much higher in dengue virus infected patients than in patients with other febrile illnesses. This indicates that ferritin could be used as a marker to discriminate between dengue and other febrile diseases. Moreover, the presence of hyperferritinaemia (ferritin levels≥500 µg/L) was associated with markers of immune activation and coagulation disturbances and clinical disease severity, suggesting that it could serve as a marker of activity of disease. Clinical markers to determine the presence and severity of dengue virus infection are important for diagnostic and treatment purposes. Our results indicate that increased ferritin levels could be used to increase the likelihood on a positive dengue diagnosis. Moreover, patients with hyperferritinaemia should be monitored carefully, because they are at risk to develop severe disease due to extensive immune activation.
Syphilis infection was associated with HIV incidence in an HIV-prevention trial that randomized participants to once-daily emtricitabine/tenofovir (FTC/TDF) vs placebo. FTC/TDF had no effect on the association between incident syphilis and HIV acquisition; syphilis infection did not decrease FTC/TDF efficacy.
Background. Syphilis infection may potentiate transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We sought to determine the extent to which HIV acquisition was associated with syphilis infection within an HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trial and whether emtricitabine/tenofovir (FTC/TDF) modified that association.
Methods. The Preexposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) study randomly assigned 2499 HIV-seronegative men and transgender women who have sex with men (MSM) to receive oral daily FTC/TDF or placebo. Syphilis prevalence at screening and incidence during follow-up were measured. Hazard ratios for the effect of incident syphilis on HIV acquisition were calculated. The effect of FTC/TDF on incident syphilis and HIV acquisition was assessed.
Results. Of 2499 individuals, 360 (14.4%) had a positive rapid plasma reagin test at screening; 333 (92.5%) had a positive confirmatory test, which did not differ between the arms (FTC/TDF vs placebo, P = .81). The overall syphilis incidence during the trial was 7.3 cases per 100 person-years. There was no difference in syphilis incidence between the study arms (7.8 cases per 100 person-years for FTC/TDF vs 6.8 cases per 100 person-years for placebo, P = .304). HIV incidence varied by incident syphilis (2.8 cases per 100 person-years for no syphilis vs 8.0 cases per 100 person-years for incident syphilis), reflecting a hazard ratio of 2.6 (95% confidence interval, 1.6–4.4; P < .001). There was no evidence for interaction between randomization to the FTC/TDF arm and incident syphilis on HIV incidence.
Conclusions. In HIV-seronegative MSM, syphilis infection was associated with HIV acquisition in this PrEP trial; a syphilis diagnosis should prompt providers to offer PrEP unless otherwise contraindicated.
chemoprophylaxis; HIV prevention; MSM; preexposure prophylaxis; syphilis
Preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC/TDF) reduced HIV acquisition in the iPrEx trial among men who have sex with men and transgender women. Self-reported sexual risk behavior decreased overall, but may be affected by reporting bias. We evaluated potential risk compensation using biomarkers of sexual risk behavior.
Design and methods
Sexual practices were assessed at baseline and quarterly thereafter; perceived treatment assignment and PrEP efficacy beliefs were assessed at 12 weeks. Among participants with ≥1 follow-up behavioral assessment, sexual behavior, syphilis, and HIV infection were compared by perceived treatment assignment, actual treatment assignment, and perceived PrEP efficacy.
Overall, acute HIV infection and syphilis decreased during follow-up. Compared with participants believing they were receiving placebo, participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF reported more receptive anal intercourse partners prior to initiating drug (12.8 vs. 7.7, P = 0.04). Belief in receiving FTC/TDF was not associated with an increase in receptive anal intercourse with no condom (ncRAI) from baseline through follow-up (risk ratio [RR] 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.6–1.4; P = 0.75), nor with a decrease after stopping study drug (RR 0.8, 95% CI: 0.5–1.3; P = 0.46). In the placebo arm, there were trends toward lower HIV incidence among participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.8, 95% CI: 0.4–1.8; P = 0.26) and also believing it was highly effective (IRR 0.5, 95% CI: 0.1–1.7; P = 0.12).
There was no evidence of sexual risk compensation in iPrEx. Participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF had more partners prior to initiating drug, suggesting that risk behavior was not a consequence of PrEP use.
Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) is characterized by defective B cell function, impaired antibody production, and increased susceptibility to bacterial infections. Here, we addressed the hypothesis that poor antibody-mediated immune control of infections may result in substantial perturbations in the T cell compartment. Newly diagnosed CVID patients were sampled before, and 6–12 months after, initiation of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy. Treatment-naïve CVID patients displayed suppressed CD4 T cell counts and myeloid dendritic cell (mDC) levels, as well as high levels of immune activation in CD8 T cells, CD4 T cells, and invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells. Expression of co-stimulatory receptors CD80 and CD83 was elevated in mDCs and correlated with T cell activation. Levels of both FoxP3+ T regulatory (Treg) cells and iNKT cells were low, whereas soluble CD14 (sCD14), indicative of monocyte activation, was elevated. Importantly, immune reconstitution treatment with IVIg partially restored the CD4 T cell and mDC compartments. Treatment furthermore reduced the levels of CD8 T cell activation and mDC activation, whereas levels of Treg cells and iNKT cells remained low. Thus, primary deficiency in humoral immunity with impaired control of microbial infections is associated with significant pathological changes in cell-mediated immunity. Furthermore, therapeutic enhancement of humoral immunity with IVIg infusions alleviates several of these defects, indicating a relationship between poor antibody-mediated immune control of infections and the occurrence of abnormalities in the T cell and mDC compartments. These findings help our understanding of the immunopathogenesis of primary immunodeficiency, as well as acquired immunodeficiency caused by HIV-1 infection.
High genetic diversity at both inter- and intra-host level are hallmarks of RNA viruses due to the error-prone nature of their genome replication. Several groups have evaluated the extent of viral variability using different RNA virus deep sequencing methods. Although much of this effort has been dedicated to pathogens that cause chronic infections in humans, few studies investigated arthropod-borne, acute viral infections.
Methods and Principal Findings
We deep sequenced the complete genome of ten DENV2 isolates from representative classical and severe cases sampled in a large outbreak in Brazil using two different approaches. Analysis of the consensus genomes confirmed the larger extent of the 2010 epidemic in comparison to a previous epidemic caused by the same viruses in another city two years before (genetic distance = 0.002 and 0.0008 respectively). Analysis of viral populations within the host revealed a high level of conservation. After excluding homopolymer regions of 454/Roche generated sequences, we found 10 to 44 variable sites per genome population at a frequency of >1%, resulting in very low intra-host genetic diversity. While up to 60% of all variable sites at intra-host level were non-synonymous changes, only 10% of inter-host variability resulted from non-synonymous mutations, indicative of purifying selection at the population level.
Conclusions and Significance
Despite the error-prone nature of RNA-dependent RNA-polymerase, dengue viruses maintain low levels of intra-host variability.
The recent announcement that a replication defective adenovirus-type 5 Gag-Pol-Nef HIV-1 vaccine developed by Merck failed in the STEP human Phase IIb efficacy trial to either prevent HIV-1 infection or to suppress viral load in subjects who subsequently became infected, was predicted by studies that had evaluated analogous vaccines in the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) challenge/rhesus macaque model. In contrast, vaccine protection studies in macaques that used a chimeric simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV89.6P) challenge failed to predict the human trial results. Adenovirus-vector based vaccines did not protect animals from infection after SHIV89.6P challenge but did cause a substantial reduction in viral load and a preservation of CD4+ T-cell counts post-infection, findings that were not reproduced in the human trials. While disappointing for the clinical development of Merck’s vaccine candidate, these studies now enable vaccine designers to utilize the SIV-challenged macaque model with more confidence, thus facilitating the future prioritization of candidate vaccines. Vaccine designers must now develop T-cell vaccine strategies that reduce viral load after heterologous challenge.
Severe dengue virus (DENV) disease is associated with extensive immune activation, characterized by a cytokine storm. Previously, elevated lipopolysaccharide (LPS) levels in dengue were found to correlate with clinical disease severity. In the present cross-sectional study we identified markers of microbial translocation and immune activation, which are associated with severe manifestations of DENV infection.
Serum samples from DENV-infected patients were collected during the outbreak in 2010 in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. Levels of LPS, lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP), soluble CD14 (sCD14) and IgM and IgG endotoxin core antibodies were determined by ELISA. Thirty cytokines were quantified using a multiplex luminex system. Patients were classified according to the 2009 WHO classification and the occurrence of plasma leakage/shock and hemorrhage. Moreover, a (non-supervised) cluster analysis based on the expression of the quantified cytokines was applied to identify groups of patients with similar cytokine profiles. Markers of microbial translocation were linked to groups with similar clinical disease severity and clusters with similar cytokine profiles.
Cluster analysis indicated that LPS levels were significantly increased in patients with a profound pro-inflammatory cytokine profile. LBP and sCD14 showed significantly increased levels in patients with severe disease in the clinical classification and in patients with severe inflammation in the cluster analysis. With both the clinical classification and the cluster analysis, levels of IL-6, IL-8, sIL-2R, MCP-1, RANTES, HGF, G-CSF and EGF were associated with severe disease.
The present study provides evidence that both microbial translocation and extensive immune activation occur during severe DENV infection and may play an important role in the pathogenesis.
The pathogenesis of severe dengue virus (DENV) infection is still not fully understood. It is hypothesized that it is caused by a cytokine storm as is described in severe sepsis. In the sepsis field, the potent immunostimulator lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is proposed to play an important role in the development of a cytokine storm. In a previous study we have found elevated levels of LPS in children with severe DENV infection. In this study we have investigated if we could confirm that microbial translocation occurs in DENV-infected patients. Moreover, we have determined the levels of thirty cytokines to get more insight in the cytokine storm during DENV infections and we have investigated whether microbial translocation is associated with immune activation. The patients in this cohort were classified according to their clinical presentation. Furthermore, a cluster analysis based on the expression of the determined cytokines was applied to identify patients with similar cytokine profiles. With these two techniques, we identified cytokines that may contribute significantly to the cytokine storm, and we could relate elevated levels of LPS to patients with a pro-inflammatory cytokine profile.
Genetic variability is a major feature of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and considered the key factor to frustrating efforts to halt the virus epidemic. In this study, we aimed to investigate the genetic variability of HIV-1 strains among children and adolescents born from 1992 to 2009 in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were collected from 51 HIV-1-positive children and adolescents on ART followed between September 1992 and July 2009. After extraction, the genetic materials were used in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the viral near full length genomes (NFLGs) from 5 overlapped fragments. NFLGs and partial amplicons were directly sequenced and data were phylogenetically inferred.
Of the 51 samples studied, the NFLGs and partial fragments of HIV-1 from 42 PBMCs and 25 plasma were successfully subtyped. Results based on proviral DNA revealed that 22 (52.4%) patients were infected with subtype B, 16 (38.1%) were infected with BF1 mosaic variants and 4 (9.5%) were infected with sub-subtype F1. All the BF1 recombinants were unique and distinct from any previously identified unique or circulating recombinant forms in South America. Evidence of dual infections was detected in 3 patients coinfected with the same or distinct HIV-1 subtypes. Ten of the 31 (32.2%) and 12 of the 21 (57.1%) subjects with recovered proviral and plasma, respectively, protease sequences were infected with major mutants resistant to protease inhibitors. The V3 sequences of 14 patients with available sequences from PBMC/or plasma were predicted to be R5-tropic virus except for two patients who harbored an X4 strain.
The high proportion of HIV-1 BF1 recombinant, coinfection rate and vertical transmission in Brazil merits urgent attention and effective measures to reduce the transmission of HIV among spouses and sex partners.
The immunopathogenic mechanisms leading to psoriasis remain unresolved. CD57 is a marker of replicative inability and immunosenescence on CD8+ T cells and the proportion of CD57 expressing CD8+ T cells is increased in a number of inflammatory conditions.
We examined the expression of CD57 on T cells in the skin of patients affected with psoriasis, comparing lesional and unaffected skin. We also assessed functionality of the T cells by evaluating the secretion of several inflammatory cytokines (IL-17A, IFN-gamma, IL-2, IL-33, TNF-alpha, IL-21, IL-22, and IL-27), from cell-sorted purified CD4+ and CD8+ T cells isolated from lesional and unaffected skin biopsies of psoriasis patients.
We observed that the frequency of CD57+CD4+ and CD57+CD8+ T cells was significantly higher in unaffected skin of psoriasis patients compared to lesional skin. Sorted CD4+ T cells from psoriatic lesional skin produced higher levels of IL-17A, IL-22, and IFN-gamma compared to unaffected skin, while sorted CD8+ T cells from lesional skin produced higher levels of IL-17, IL-22, IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, and IL-2 compared to unaffected skin.
These findings suggest that T cells in unaffected skin from psoriasis patients exhibit a phenotype compatible with replicative inability. As they have a lower replicative capacity, CD57+ T cells are less frequent in lesional tissue due to the high cellular turnover.
HTLV-1 infection is associated with several inflammatory disorders, including the neurodegenerative condition HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). It is unclear why a minority of infected subjects develops HAM/TSP. CD4+ T cells are the main target of infection and play a pivotal role in regulating immunity to HTLV and are hypothesized to participate in the pathogenesis of HAM/TSP. The CD39 ectonucleotidase receptor is expressed on CD4+ T cells and based on co-expression with CD25, marks T cells with distinct regulatory (CD39+CD25+) and effector (CD39+CD25−) function. Here, we investigated the expression of CD39 on CD4+ T cells from a cohort of HAM/TSP patients, HTLV-1 asymptomatic carriers (AC), and matched uninfected controls. The frequency of CD39+ CD4+ T cells was increased in HTLV-1 infected patients, regardless of clinical status. More importantly, the proportion of the immunostimulatory CD39+CD25− CD4+ T-cell subset was significantly elevated in HAM/TSP patients as compared to AC and phenotypically had lower levels of the immunoinhibitory receptor, PD-1. We saw no difference in the frequency of CD39+CD25+ regulatory (Treg) cells between AC and HAM/TSP patients. However, these cells transition from being anergic to displaying a polyfunctional cytokine response following HTLV-1 infection. CD39−CD25+ T cell subsets predominantly secreted the inflammatory cytokine IL-17. We found that HAM/TSP patients had significantly fewer numbers of IL-17 secreting CD4+ T cells compared to uninfected controls. Taken together, we show that the expression of CD39 is upregulated on CD4+ T cells HAM/TSP patients. This upregulation may play a role in the development of the proinflammatory milieu through pathways both distinct and separate among the different CD39 T cell subsets. CD39 upregulation may therefore serve as a surrogate diagnostic marker of progression and could potentially be a target for interventions to reduce the development of HAM/TSP.
Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) has been estimated to infect 10–20 million worldwide. The majority of infected individuals are asymptomatic, however, 2% to 3% develop a neurodegenerative disorder called HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). The reasons why persons with HTLV-1 develop these complications appear to be multiple and complex. Cellular immune response has been implicated in the development of inflammatory alterations in these patients, however the pathogenic mechanisms for disease progression remain unclear. Regulatory CD4+ T cells (Treg) and Th17 cells derive from a common progenitor and conflicting results regarding frequency and function are found in the development of HAM/TSP. The expression of the CD39 ectoenzyme, a molecule that can mediate immunostimulatory and inhibitory effects, is useful to define IL-17 secreting cell populations, suppressive CD4+ T cells and CD4+ T cells with immunostimulatory properties. The interplay of these T-cell subsets may reveal important aspects of HAM/TSP pathogenesis. In this study, we performed an evaluation of the immunoregulatory CD4+ T-cell subsets defined by CD39 expression including Th17 cells. Our results present phenotypic and functional alterations in the CD4+ T cell profile that could account for the transition from asymptomatic status to HAM/TSP, predicting clinical disease risk and tracking disease progression.
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
The Interleukin 28B (IL28B) rs12979860 polymorphisms was recently reported to be associated with the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) proviral load (PvL) and the development of the HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP).
In an attempt to examine this hypothesis, we assessed the association of the rs12979860 genotypes with HTLV-1 PvL levels and clinical status in 112 unrelated Brazilian subjects (81 HTLV-1 asymptomatic carriers, 24 individuals with HAM/TSP and 7 with Adult T cell Leukemia/Lymphoma (ATLL)).
All 112 samples were successfully genotyped and their PvLs compared. Neither the homozygote TT nor the heterozygote CT mutations nor the combination genotypes (TT/CT) were associated with a greater PvL. We also observed no significant difference in allele distribution between asymptomatic carriers and patients with HTLV-1 associated HAM/TSP.
Our study failed to support the previously reported positive association between the IL28B rs12979860 polymorphisms and an increased risk of developing HAM/TSP in the Brazilian population.
HTLV-1; ILB 28 polymorphisms; HAM/TSP; Proviral load
Because various HIV vaccination studies are in progress, it is important to understand how often inter- and intra-subtype co/superinfection occurs in different HIV-infected high-risk groups. This knowledge would aid in the development of future prevention programs. In this cross-sectional study, we report the frequency of subtype B and F1 co-infection in a clinical group of 41 recently HIV-1 infected men who have sex with men (MSM) in São Paulo, Brazil.
Proviral HIV-1 DNA was isolated from subject's peripheral blood polymorphonuclear leukocytes that were obtained at the time of enrollment. Each subject was known to be infected with a subtype B virus as determined in a previous study. A small fragment of the integrase gene (nucleotide 4255–4478 of HXB2) was amplified by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using subclade F1 specific primers. The PCR results were further confirmed by phylogenetic analysis. Viral load (VL) data were extrapolated from the medical records of each patient.
For the 41 samples from MSM who were recently infected with subtype B virus, it was possible to detect subclade F1 proviral DNA in five patients, which represents a co-infection rate of 12.2%. In subjects with dual infection, the median VL was 5.3 × 104 copies/ML, whereas in MSM that were infected with only subtype B virus the median VL was 3.8 × 104 copies/ML (p > 0.8).
This study indicated that subtype B and F1 co-infection occurs frequently within the HIV-positive MSM population as suggested by large number of BF1 recombinant viruses reported in Brazil. This finding will help us track the epidemic and provide support for the development of immunization strategies against the HIV.
As perinatally HIV-1-infected children grow into adolescents and young adults, they are increasingly burdened with the long-term consequences of chronic HIV-1 infection, with long-term morbidity due to inadequate immunity. In progressive HIV-1 infection in horizontally infected adults, inflammation, T cell activation, and perturbed T cell differentiation lead to an “immune exhaustion”, with decline in T cell effector functions. T effector cells develop an increased expression of CD57 and loss of CD28, with an increase in co-inhibitory receptors such as PD-1 and Tim-3. Very little is known about HIV-1 induced T cell dysfunction in vertical infection. In two perinatally antiretroviral drug treated HIV-1-infected groups with median ages of 11.2 yr and 18.5 yr, matched for viral load, we found no difference in the proportion of senescent CD28−CD57+CD8+ T cells between the groups. However, the frequency of Tim-3+CD8+ and Tim-3+CD4+ exhausted T cells, but not PD-1+ T cells, was significantly increased in the adolescents with longer duration of infection compared to the children with shorter duration of HIV-1 infection. PD-1+CD8+ T cells were directly associated with T cell immune activation in children. The frequency of Tim-3+CD8+ T cells positively correlated with HIV-1 plasma viral load in the adolescents but not in the children. These data suggest that Tim-3 upregulation was driven by both HIV-1 viral replication and increased age, whereas PD-1 expression is associated with immune activation. These findings also suggest that the Tim-3 immune exhaustion phenotype rather than PD-1 or senescent cells plays an important role in age-related T cell dysfunction in perinatal HIV-1 infection. Targeting Tim-3 may serve as a novel therapeutic approach to improve immune control of virus replication and mitigate age related T cell exhaustion.
The sieve analysis for the Step trial found evidence that breakthrough HIV-1 sequences for MRKAd5/HIV-1 Gag/Pol/Nef vaccine recipients were more divergent from the vaccine insert than placebo sequences in regions with predicted epitopes. We linked the viral sequence data with immune response and acute viral load data to explore mechanisms for and consequences of the observed sieve effect.
Ninety-one male participants (37 placebo and 54 vaccine recipients) were included; viral sequences were obtained at the time of HIV-1 diagnosis. T-cell responses were measured 4 weeks post-second vaccination and at the first or second week post-diagnosis. Acute viral load was obtained at RNA-positive and antibody-negative visits.
Vaccine recipients had a greater magnitude of post-infection CD8+ T cell response than placebo recipients (median 1.68% vs 1.18%; p = 0·04) and greater breadth of post-infection response (median 4.5 vs 2; p = 0·06). Viral sequences for vaccine recipients were marginally more divergent from the insert than placebo sequences in regions of Nef targeted by pre-infection immune responses (p = 0·04; Pol p = 0·13; Gag p = 0·89). Magnitude and breadth of pre-infection responses did not correlate with distance of the viral sequence to the insert (p>0·50). Acute log viral load trended lower in vaccine versus placebo recipients (estimated mean 4·7 vs 5·1) but the difference was not significant (p = 0·27). Neither was acute viral load associated with distance of the viral sequence to the insert (p>0·30).
Despite evidence of anamnestic responses, the sieve effect was not well explained by available measures of T-cell immunogenicity. Sequence divergence from the vaccine was not significantly associated with acute viral load. While point estimates suggested weak vaccine suppression of viral load, the result was not significant and more viral load data would be needed to detect suppression.
Translational errors can result in bypassing of the main viral protein reading frames and the production of alternate reading frame (ARF) or cryptic peptides. Within HIV, there are many such ARFs in both sense and the antisense directions of transcription. These ARFs have the potential to generate immunogenic peptides called cryptic epitopes (CE). Both antiretroviral drug therapy and the immune system exert a mutational pressure on HIV-1. Immune pressure exerted by ARF CD8+ T cells on the virus has already been observed in vitro. HAART has also been described to select HIV-1 variants for drug escape mutations. Since the mutational pressure exerted on one location of the HIV-1 genome can potentially affect the 3 reading frames, we hypothesized that ARF responses would be affected by this drug pressure in vivo.
In this study we identified new ARFs derived from sense and antisense transcription of HIV-1. Many of these ARFs are detectable in circulating viral proteins. They are predominantly found in the HIV-1 env nucleotide region. We measured T cell responses to 199 HIV-1 CE encoded within 13 sense and 34 antisense HIV-1 ARFs. We were able to observe that these ARF responses are more frequent and of greater magnitude in chronically infected individuals compared to acutely infected patients, and in patients on HAART, the breadth of ARF responses increased.
These results have implications for vaccine design and unveil the existence of potential new epitopes that could be included as vaccine targets.
Great efforts have been made to increase accessibility of HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) in low and middle-income countries. The threat of wide-scale emergence of drug resistance could severely hamper ART scale-up efforts. Population-based surveillance of transmitted HIV drug resistance ensures the use of appropriate first-line regimens to maximize efficacy of ART programs where drug options are limited. However, traditional HIV genotyping is extremely expensive, providing a cost barrier to wide-scale and frequent HIV drug resistance surveillance.
We have developed a low-cost laboratory-scale next-generation sequencing-based genotyping method to monitor drug resistance. We designed primers specifically to amplify protease and reverse transcriptase from Brazilian HIV subtypes and developed a multiplexing scheme using multiplex identifier tags to minimize cost while providing more robust data than traditional genotyping techniques. Using this approach, we characterized drug resistance from plasma in 81 HIV infected individuals collected in São Paulo, Brazil. We describe the complexities of analyzing next-generation sequencing data and present a simplified open-source workflow to analyze drug resistance data. From this data, we identified drug resistance mutations in 20% of treatment naïve individuals in our cohort, which is similar to frequencies identified using traditional genotyping in Brazilian patient samples.
The developed ultra-wide sequencing approach described here allows multiplexing of at least 48 patient samples per sequencing run, 4 times more than the current genotyping method. This method is also 4-fold more sensitive (5% minimal detection frequency vs. 20%) at a cost 3–5× less than the traditional Sanger-based genotyping method. Lastly, by using a benchtop next-generation sequencer (Roche/454 GS Junior), this approach can be more easily implemented in low-resource settings. This data provides proof-of-concept that next-generation HIV drug resistance genotyping is a feasible and low-cost alternative to current genotyping methods and may be particularly beneficial for in-country surveillance of transmitted drug resistance.
Background. Transmitted human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) drug resistance (TDR) mutations can become replaced over time by emerging wild-type viral variants with improved fitness. The impact of class-specific mutations on this rate of mutation replacement is uncertain.
Methods. We studied participants with acute and/or early HIV infection and TDR in 2 cohorts (San Francisco, California, and São Paulo, Brazil). We followed baseline mutations longitudinally and compared replacement rates between mutation classes with use of a parametric proportional hazards model.
Results. Among 75 individuals with 195 TDR mutations, M184V/I became undetectable markedly faster than did nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) mutations (hazard ratio, 77.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 14.7–408.2; P < .0001), while protease inhibitor and NNRTI replacement rates were similar. Higher plasma HIV-1 RNA level predicted faster mutation replacement, but this was not statistically significant (hazard ratio, 1.71 log10 copies/mL; 95% CI, .90–3.25 log10 copies/mL; P = .11). We found substantial person-to-person variability in mutation replacement rates not accounted for by viral load or mutation class (P < .0001).
Conclusions. The rapid replacement of M184V/I mutations is consistent with known fitness costs. The long-term persistence of NNRTI and protease inhibitor mutations suggests a risk for person-to-person propagation. Host and/or viral factors not accounted for by viral load or mutation class are likely influencing mutation replacement and warrant further study.