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1.  Reduced CD14 expression on classical monocytes and vascular endothelial adhesion markers independently associate with carotid artery intima media thickness in chronically HIV-1 infected adults on virologically suppressive anti-retroviral therapy 
Atherosclerosis  2013;232(1):52-58.
HIV infection causes systemic immune inflammation, and increases the risk for cardiovascular (CVD) disease even among those on virologically suppressive anti-retroviral treatment (ART). We performed a biostatistical analysis and screen of candidate cellular and plasma biomarkers for association with carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT), independent of traditional CVD risk factors such as age, gender, systolic blood pressure (SBP), lipid levels, smoking and diabetes. We conducted a multi-stage analysis based on a cross-sectional study of CVD risk in HIV-infected subjects age >45 years on ART for >6 months. The goal of this analysis was to identify candidate cellular and plasma biomarkers of CIMT in HIV-1 infected adults. We further sought to determine if these candidate biomarkers were independent of traditional CVD risk factors previously identified in HIV negative adults. High-resolution B-mode ultrasound images of the right common carotid common artery (CCA) were obtained. Plasma soluble inflammatory mediators, cytokines and chemokines were detected. Monocytes were defined by CD14/CD16 expression, and CD8+ T-cell activation by CD38/HLA-DR expression. Subjects were a median of 49.5 years old, 87% male, had a CIMT of 0.73 mm, FRS of 6%, a median viral load of 48 copies/mL, and CD4+ T cell count of 479 cells/μL. Soluble VCAM-1, and expansion of CD14dimCD16− monocytes each associated with higher CIMT independently of age and SBP. These factors are distinct components of a shared atherogenic process; 1) vascular endothelial molecular expression and 2) vascular monocytes that enter into the vascular endothelium and promote atherosclerotic plaque.
PMCID: PMC3919042  PMID: 24401216
HIV; Carotid intima-media; CIMT; Cardiovascular disease; Framingham risk score; Biomarker; Screen; Regression; CD14; Monocytes; VCAM-1; Cytokines
2.  Natural Killer Cells in Perinatally HIV-1-Infected Children Exhibit Less Degranulation Compared to HIV-1-Exposed Uninfected Children and Their Expression of KIR2DL3, NKG2C, and NKp46 Correlates with Disease Severity1 
NK cells play an integral role in the innate immune response by targeting virally infected and transformed cells with direct killing and providing help to adaptive responses through cytokine secretion. Whereas recent studies have focused on NK cells in HIV-1-infected adults, the role of NK cells in perinatally HIV-1-infected children is less studied. Using multiparametric flow cytometric analysis, we assessed the number, phenotype, and function of NK cell subsets in the peripheral blood of perinatally HIV-1-infected children on highly active antiretroviral therapy and compared them to perinatally exposed but uninfected children. We observed an increased frequency of NK cells expressing inhibitory killer Ig-like receptors in infected children. This difference existed despite comparable levels of total NK cells and NK cell subpopulations between the two groups. Additionally, NK cell subsets from infected children expressed, with and without stimulation, significantly lower levels of the degranulation marker CD107, which correlates with NK cell cytotoxicity. Lastly, increased expression of KIR2DL3, NKG2C, and NKp46 on NK cells correlated with decreased CD4+ T-lymphocyte percentage, an indicator of disease severity in HIV-1-infected children. Taken together, these results show that HIV-1-infected children retain a large population of cytotoxically dysfunctional NK cells relative to perinatally exposed uninfected children. This reduced function appears concurrently with distinct NK cell surface receptor expression and is associated with a loss of CD4+ T cells. This finding suggests that NK cells may have an important role in HIV-1 disease pathogenesis in HIV-1-infected children.
PMCID: PMC4271645  PMID: 17709553
3.  Galectin-9 Plasma Levels Reflect Adverse Hamatological and Immunological Features in Acute Dengue Virus Infection 
Dengue virus (DENV) infection remains a major public health burden worldwide. Soluble mediators may play a critical role in the pathogenesis of acute DENV infection. Galectin-9 (Gal-9) is a soluble β-galactoside-binding lectin, with multiple immunoregulatory and inflammatory properties.
To investigate plasma Gal-9 levels as a biomarker for DENV infection.
Study design
We enrolled 65 DENV infected patients during the 2010 epidemic in the Philippines and measured their plasma Gal-9 and cytokine/chemokine levels, DENV genotypes, and copy number during the critical and recovery phases of illness.
During the critical phase, Gal-9 levels were significantly higher in DENV infected patients compared to healthy or those with non-dengue febrile illness. The highest Gal-9 levels were observed in dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) patients (DHF: 2464 pg/ml; dengue fever patients (DF): 1407 pg/ml; non-dengue febrile illness: 616 pg/ml; healthy: 196 pg/ml). In the recovery phase, Gal-9 levels significantly declined from peak levels in DF and DHF patients. Gal-9 levels tracked viral load, and were associated with multiple cytokines and chemokines (IL-1α, IL-8, IP-10, and VEGF), including monocyte frequencies and hematologic variables of coagulation. Further discriminant analyses showed that eotaxin, Gal-9, IFN-α2, and MCP-1 could detect 92% of DHF and 79.3% of DF, specifically (P<0.01).
Gal-9 appears to track DENV inflammatory responses, and therefore, it could serve as an important novel biomarker of acute DENV infection and disease severity.
PMCID: PMC3880569  PMID: 24239423
Galectin-9; dengue virus; biomarker; dengue fever; dengue hemorrhagic fever
4.  Inflammation and Albuminuria in HIV-infected Patients Receiving Combination Antiretroviral Therapy 
The observed higher prevalence of albuminuria among HIV-infected patients has been strongly associated with cardiovascular disease and higher mortality. In HIV-seronegative patients with metabolic syndrome, malignancies and infections, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and acute phase reactants have been associated with albuminuria. However, the pathophysiology of albuminuria in HIV-seropositive individuals is poorly understood. We investigated the association of albuminuria with inflammatory biomarkers among HIV-infected patients on combination antiretroviral therapy.
This is a cross-sectional analysis of the entry data of the participants enrolled in the Hawai‘i Aging with HIV-Cardiovascular Cohort. Participants were ≥ 40 years old, lived in Hawai‘i, documented HIV-positive, and had been on antiretroviral therapy for at least 6 months prior to recruitment. Albuminuria was defined as urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) of 30 mg/g or higher, as assessed from single random urine collection. Microalbuminuria was defined as urine ACR between 30 and 300 mg/g and macroalbuminuria as urine ACR more than 300 mg/g. Plasma inflammatory biomarkers were assessed by multiplexing using Milliplex Human Cardiovascular Disease panels. Differences in clinical and laboratory characteristics between subjects with and without albuminuria were compared using a non-parametric Wilcoxon rank test for continuous variables and a chi-squared test for categorical variables. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were utilized to assess the association between presence of albuminuria as the dependent variable and plasma biomarkers as independent variables. Log-transformed plasma inflammatory biomarkers with P-value less than .1 in univariate logistic regression analysis were selected for examination in separate multivariate logistic regression models, adjusting for previously reported risk factors for albuminuria (age, gender, race, diabetes, hypertension, CD4 percent, current ritonavir, and tenofovir use).
Among a cohort of 111 HIV-infected patients (median age of 52 (Q1: 46, Q3: 57); male 86%; diabetes 6%; hypertension 33%; median CD4 count of 489 cells/mm3(Q1:341, Q3: 638); HIV RNA PCR < 48 copies/ml 85%), eighteen subjects (16.2%) had microalbuminuria, and two subjects (1.8%) had macroalbuminuria. There was no significant difference in CD4 count and HIV viral loads between patients with and without albuminuria. In univariate logistic regression analysis, higher levels of log-transformed soluble E-selectin (sE-selectin), soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (sVCAM-1), tissue plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (tPAI-1), C-reactive protein (CRP), serum amyloid A (SAA), serum amyloid P (SAP), interleukin-1β, interleukin-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) were associated with albuminuria (P < .10). In multivariate logistic regression models, sE-selectin, sVCAM-1, tPAI-1, CRP, and SAP remained significant (P < .05) even after adjustment for previously reported risk factors for albuminuria.
This study has shown an association between inflammation and albuminuria independent of previously reported risk factors for albuminuria in HIV-infected subjects on stable combination antiretroviral therapy. Chronic low-grade inflammation despite potent antiretroviral treatment may be one of the factors causing higher rates of albuminuria among HIV-infected patients. Future studies are needed to further elucidate the pathophysiologic mechanisms of chronic inflammation in HIV and its impact on kidney disease.
PMCID: PMC4175929
5.  Monocytes Expand with Immune Dysregulation and Is Associated with Insulin Resistance in Older Individuals with Chronic HIV 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90330.
Rates of insulin resistance are increased in HIV-infected patients on stable antiretroviral therapy (ART). Such increase may partially be due to HIV-induced immune dysregulation involving monocytes (MO) and its subsets.
Materials and Methods
Cross-sectional analysis of 141 HIV-infected subjects age ≥ 40 years on stable ART. Homeostatic model assessment–insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and rates of metabolic syndrome were calculated. Subjects were classified by fasting glucose and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) into clinical diabetes categories. Multi-parametric flow cytometry was used to determine MO subset percentages: [classical (CD14++CD16−), intermediate (CD14++CD16+), non-classical (CD14low/+CD16++), and a recently identified fourth (CD14low/+CD16−) ‘transitional’ MO subset] and percentage of activated (CD38+HLA-DR+) CD8 T cells. Absolute levels of cells were calculated using clinical CBC and T cell subset data. Multiple plasma soluble biomarkers were assessed by Luminex technology.
Median age 50 years, CD4 count (percent) 505 cells/µL (29%), and 89% male. Total MO (r = −0.23, p = 0.006) and classical and non-classical MO subsets correlated negatively with CD4 percent. No correlations were seen with CD4 count as absolute values. Log-total MO and log-classical MO predicted HOMA-IR independently of HIV immuno-virologic and diabetes risk factors (β = 0.42, p = 0.02 and β = 0.35, p = 0.02, respectively) and were increased in subjects with metabolic syndrome (p = 0.03 and p = 0.05 respectively). Total and/or subset MO levels correlated with multiple soluble plasma biomarkers including CRP, IL-6, MMP-9, MPO, SAA, SAP and tPAI-1, with tPAI-1 independently predicting HOMA-IR (β = 0.74, p<0.001).
MO levels increase with worsening HIV immune dysregulation as assessed by CD4 percent. CD4 percent may provide additional information about MO and metabolic risk in this population beyond absolute values. MO, and specifically classical MO, may contribute to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome during chronic HIV infection. Multiple soluble plasma biomarkers including tPAI-1 increase with increase in MO. Levels of tPAI-1 independently predict the development of insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3937368  PMID: 24587328
6.  Activation Associated ERK1/2 Signaling Impairments in CD8+ T Cells Co-Localize with Blunted Polyclonal and HIV-1 Specific Effector Functions in Early Untreated HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77412.
We recently observed that a large proportion of activated (CD38+HLA-DR+) CD8+ T cells from recently HIV-1-infected adults are refractory to phosphorylation of ERK1/2 kinases (p-ERK1/2-refractory). Given that the ERK1/2 pathway mediates intracellular signaling critical for multiple T cell functions, including key effector functions, the loss of ERK1/2 responsiveness may have broad consequences for CD8+ T cell function. In the current study, we hypothesized that the p-ERK1/2-refractory population, localized largely within the activated CD38+HLA-DR+ CD8+ T cell population, would display impairments in CD8+ T cell effector functions, such as cytokine production and degranulation, compared to CD8+ p-ERK1/2-responsive cells. We further hypothesized that the p-ERK1/2-refractory phenotype is persistent over time during untreated infection, and would correlate with poorer virologic control, in a manner independent of CD8+ T cell activation level. We performed single-cell resolution, flow cytometric assays of phospho-kinase responses paired to intracellular cytokine staining in one assay to examine IFN-γ, perforin and CD107α responses in CD8+ T cells by ERK1/2 signaling profile. On a per cell basis, p-ERK1/2-refractory cells, which fall predominantly within the activated CD8+ T cell compartment, produced less IFN-γ in response to polyclonal or HIV-1 antigen-specific stimulation, and expressed lower levels of perforin and CD107α. The p-ERK1/2 refractory cell population displayed minimal overlap with the PD-1 and Tim-3 inhibitory exhaustion markers and predicted high viral load independent of activation, suggesting that ERK1/2 may be a unique marker and point of intervention for improving CD8+ T cell function. Blunted effector functions, secondary to ERK1/2 signaling deficits concentrated within activated CD8+ T cells, may contribute to immunodeficiency and underlie the predictive capacity of CD8+ T cell activation on HIV-1 disease progression. (270/300).
PMCID: PMC3797111  PMID: 24143233
7.  IL-1Β Enriched Monocytes Mount Massive IL-6 Responses to Common Inflammatory Triggers among Chronically HIV-1 Infected Adults on Stable Anti-Retroviral Therapy at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75500.
Chronic infection by HIV increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) despite effective antiretroviral therapy (ART). The mechanisms linking HIV to CVD have yet to be fully elucidated. High plasma levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6, which may be triggered by IL-1β, is a biomarker of CVD risk in HIV-negative adults, and of all-cause mortality in HIV disease. Monocytes play a pivotal role in atherosclerosis, and may be major mediators of HIV-associated inflammation. We therefore hypothesized that monocytes from HIV-infected adults would display high inflammatory responses. Employing a 10-color flow cytometry intracellular cytokine staining assay, we directly assessed cytokine and chemokine responses of monocytes from the cryopreserved peripheral blood of 33 chronically HIV-1 infected subjects. Participants were 45 years or older, on virologically suppressive ART and at risk for CVD. This group was compared to 14 HIV-negative subjects matched for age and gender, with similar CVD risk. We simultaneously detected intracellular expression of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF in blood monocytes in the basal state and after stimulation by triggers commonly found in the blood of treated, chronically HIV-infected subjects: lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL). In the absence of stimulation, monocytes from treated HIV-infected subjects displayed a high frequency of cells producing IL-1β (median 19.5%), compared to low levels in HIV-uninfected persons (0.9% p<0.0001). IL-8, which is induced by IL-1β, was also highly expressed in the HIV-infected group in the absence of stimulation, 43.7% compared to 1.9% in HIV-uninfected subjects, p<0.0001. Strikingly, high basal expression of IL-1β by monocytes predicted high IL-6 levels in the plasma, and high monocyte IL-6 responses in HIV-infected subjects. Hyper-inflammatory IL-1β enriched monocytes may be a major source of IL-6 production and systemic inflammation in HIV-infected adults, and may contribute to the risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease in treated HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3783392  PMID: 24086545
8.  Albuminuria as a Marker of Cardiovascular Risk in HIV-Infected Individuals Receiving Stable Antiretroviral Therapy 
Albuminuria (urinary excretion of more than 30 milligram of albumin per gram of creatinine) serves as an indicator of microvascular injury, which has been associated with atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease in HIV-seronegative individuals. Albuminuria has been reported to be prevalent among HIV-seropositive individuals, however, the relationship between albuminuria and risk for cardiovascular disease in this population has not been well-studied. We examined the relationships between albuminuria and parameters of atherosclerosis including carotid intima-media thickness and traditional cardiovascular risk assessment among HIV-seropositive individuals receiving stable antiretroviral therapy. We utilized a cross-sectional baseline data from the Hawai‘i Aging with HIV-Cardiovascular Study cohort.
Data was available on 111 HIV-infected patients (median age of 52 (Q1,Q3: 46, 57), male 86%; diabetes 6%; hypertension 33%; dyslipidemia 50%; median CD4 count of 489 cells/mm3 (341, 638); HIV RNA PCR < 48 copies/ml of 85%). Eighteen subjects (16.2%) had microalbuminuria, and two subjects (1.8%) had macroalbuminuria. Albuminuria was significantly associated with increased Framingham Risk Score (P=.002), insulin resistance by HOMA-IR (P=.02), diastolic blood pressure (P=.01), and carotid intima-media thickness (P =.04). The correlation between the amount of albuminuria and carotid intima-media thickness remained significant even after adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, current smoking status, diabetes mellitus, diastolic blood pressure, fasting insulin level, CD4 count, and HIV-RNA viral load.
Albuminuria is prevalent among HIV-infected patients receiving stable antiretroviral therapy. It is significantly related to previously defined markers of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome among HIV-infected patients receiving stable antiretroviral therapy.
PMCID: PMC3764546  PMID: 24052917
HIV; albuminuria; CD4 count; HIV viral load; atherosclerosis; aging; cardiovascular disease
9.  Absence of reproducibly detectable low-level HIV viremia in highly exposed seronegative men and women. 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(5):619-623.
Transient HIV infections have been invoked to account for the cellular immune responses detected in highly virus-exposed individuals who have remained HIV seronegative. We tested for very low levels of HIV RNA in 524 seronegative plasma samples from 311 highly exposed women and men from 3 longitudinal HIV cohorts.
2073 transcription mediated amplification (TMA) HIV RNA tests were performed for an average of 3.95 TMA assays per plasma sample. Quadruplicate TMA assays, analyzing a total of 2 ml of plasma, provided an estimated sensitivity of 3.5 HIV RNA copies/ml.
Four samples from subjects who did not sero-convert within the following six months were positive for HIV RNA. For one sample, human polymorphism DNA analysis indicated a sample mix up. Borderline HIV RNA detection signals were detected for the other three positive samples and further replicate TMA testing yielded no positive results. Nested PCR assays (n=254) for HIV proviral DNA on PBMC from these 3 subjects were negative.
Transient viremia was not reproducibly detected in highly HIV exposed seronegative men and women. If transient infections do occur, plasma HIV RNA levels may remain below the detection limits of the sensitive assay used here, be of very short duration, or viral replication may be restricted to mucosal surfaces or their draining lymphoid tissues.
PMCID: PMC3458706  PMID: 21297421
10.  HIV-1 Infection Abrogates CD8+ T Cell Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Signaling Responses▿† 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(23):12343-12350.
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways are dynamic and sensitive regulators of T cell function and differentiation. Altered MAPK signaling has been associated with the inflammatory and autoimmune diseases lupus and arthritis and with some pathogenic viral infections. HIV-1 infection is characterized by chronic immune inflammation, aberrantly heightened CD8+ T cell activation levels, and altered T cell function. The relationship between MAPK pathway function, HIV-1-induced activation (CD38 and HLA-DR), and exhaustion (Tim-3) markers in circulating CD8+ T cells remains unknown. Phosphorylation of the MAPK effector proteins ERK and p38 was examined by “phosflow” flow cytometry in 79 recently HIV-1-infected, antiretroviral-treatment-naïve adults and 21 risk-matched HIV-1-negative controls. We identified a subset of CD8+ T cells refractory to phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate plus ionomycin-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation (referred to as p-ERK1/2-refractory cells) that was greatly expanded in HIV-1-infected adults. The CD8+ p-ERK1/2-refractory cells were highly activated (CD38+ HLA-DR+) but not exhausted (Tim-3 negative), tended to have low CD8 expression, and were enriched in intermediate and late transitional memory states of differentiation (CD45RA− CD28− CD27+/−). Targeting MAPK pathways to restore ERK1/2 signaling may normalize immune inflammation levels and restore CD8+ T cell function during HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC3209373  PMID: 21937661
11.  HIV RNA level in early infection is predicted by viral load in the transmission source 
AIDS (London, England)  2010;24(7):941-945.
HIV-1 viral load in early infection predicts the risk of subsequent disease progression but the factors responsible for the differences between individuals in viral load during this period have not been fully identified. We sought to determine the relationship between HIV-1 RNA levels in the source partner and recently infected recipient partners within transmission pairs.
We recruited donor partners of persons who presented with acute or recent (< 6 months) HIV infection. Transmission was confirmed by phyologenetic comparison of virus sequence in the donor and recipient partners. We compared viral load in the donor partner and the recipient in the first 6 months of HIV infection.
We identified 24 transmission pairs. The median estimated time from infection to evaluation in acutely/recently infected recipient individuals was 72 days. The viral load in the donor was closely associated with viral load at presentation in the recipient case (r=0.55, P=0.006).
The strong correlation between HIV-1 RNA levels within HIV transmission pairs indicates that virus characteristics are an important determinant of viral load in early HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC2887742  PMID: 20168202
HIV-1 RNA; acute HIV-1 infection; HIV-1 transmission; viral load set-point; HIV-1 pathogenesis
12.  Tryptophan Catabolism by Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase 1 Alters the Balance of TH17 to Regulatory T Cells in HIV Disease 
Science translational medicine  2010;2(32):32ra36.
The pathogenesis of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses is characterized by CD4+ T cell depletion and chronic T cell activation, leading ultimately to AIDS. CD4+ T helper (TH) cells provide protective immunity and immune regulation through different immune cell functional subsets, including TH1, TH2, T regulatory (Treg), and interleukin-17 (IL-17)–secreting TH17 cells. Because IL-17 can enhance host defenses against microbial agents, thus maintaining the integrity of the mucosal barrier, loss of TH17 cells may foster microbial translocation and sustained inflammation. Here, we study HIV-seropositive subjects and find that progressive disease is associated with the loss of TH17 cells and a reciprocal increase in the fraction of the immunosuppressive Treg cells both in peripheral blood and in rectosigmoid biopsies. The loss of TH17/Treg balance is associated with induction of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) by myeloid antigen-presenting dendritic cells and with increased plasma concentration of microbial products. In vitro, the loss of TH17/Treg balance is mediated directly by the proximal tryptophan catabolite from IDO metabolism, 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid. We postulate that induction of IDO may represent a critical initiating event that results in inversion of the TH17/Treg balance and in the consequent maintenance of a chronic inflammatory state in progressive HIV disease.
PMCID: PMC3034445  PMID: 20484731
13.  A Novel Human CD4+ T cell Inducer Subset with Potent Immunostimulatory Properties 
European journal of immunology  2010;40(1):134-141.
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.
PMCID: PMC2902274  PMID: 19877008
CD4; CD39; Regulatory T cells; FOXP3; CD127; CD25; proliferation; Inducer; cytokine; IFN-γ; IL-6; IL-10; TNF-α; GM-CSF; ATP
14.  IL-2 Immunotherapy to Recently HIV-1 Infected Adults Maintains the Numbers of IL-17 Expressing CD4+ T (TH17) Cells in the Periphery 
Journal of Clinical Immunology  2010;30(5):681-692.
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.
PMCID: PMC2935971  PMID: 20571894
Human; T cells; HIV-1; cytokines; interleukin-2; interleukin-17; T-regs; anti-retroviral therapy
15.  Tim-3 expression defines a novel population of dysfunctional T cells with highly elevated frequencies in progressive HIV-1 infection 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2008;205(12):2763-2779.
Progressive loss of T cell functionality is a hallmark of chronic infection with human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1). We have identified a novel population of dysfunctional T cells marked by surface expression of the glycoprotein Tim-3. The frequency of this population was increased in HIV-1–infected individuals to a mean of 49.4 ± SD 12.9% of CD8+ T cells expressing Tim-3 in HIV-1–infected chronic progressors versus 28.5 ± 6.8% in HIV-1–uninfected individuals. Levels of Tim-3 expression on T cells from HIV-1–infected inviduals correlated positively with HIV-1 viral load and CD38 expression and inversely with CD4+ T cell count. In progressive HIV-1 infection, Tim-3 expression was up-regulated on HIV-1–specific CD8+ T cells. Tim-3–expressing T cells failed to produce cytokine or proliferate in response to antigen and exhibited impaired Stat5, Erk1/2, and p38 signaling. Blocking the Tim-3 signaling pathway restored proliferation and enhanced cytokine production in HIV-1–specific T cells. Thus, Tim-3 represents a novel target for the therapeutic reversal of HIV-1–associated T cell dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC2585847  PMID: 19001139
16.  Critical Loss of the Balance between Th17 and T Regulatory Cell Populations in Pathogenic SIV Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(2):e1000295.
Chronic immune activation and progression to AIDS are observed after SIV infection in macaques but not in natural host primate species. To better understand this dichotomy, we compared acute pathogenic SIV infection in pigtailed macaques (PTs) to non-pathogenic infection in African green monkeys (AGMs). SIVagm-infected PTs, but not SIVagm-infected AGMs, rapidly developed systemic immune activation, marked and selective depletion of IL-17-secreting (Th17) cells, and loss of the balance between Th17 and T regulatory (Treg) cells in blood, lymphoid organs, and mucosal tissue. The loss of Th17 cells was found to be predictive of systemic and sustained T cell activation. Collectively, these data indicate that loss of the Th17 to Treg balance is related to SIV disease progression.
Author Summary
Natural infection by the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in over 40 different species of African non-human primates is not accompanied by progression to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). To understand this phenomenon, we have performed a detailed virologic, immunologic, and gene expression analysis of acute SIV infection of two disparate species: the African green monkey (AGM), in which SIV infection is nonpathogenic, and the Asian pigtailed macaque (PT), in which SIV infection results in AIDS. After experimental infection, animals of both species developed high viral loads. In the PTs, viremia was associated with CD4+ T cell depletion in the peripheral blood and multiple signs of persistent immune activation and inflammation. Such pathology was not observed in AGMs. Notably, the AGMs maintained high and balanced levels of two subset populations of CD4+ T cells, e.g., the immunosuppressive T regulatory (Treg) and the IL-17 producing (Th17) populations, whereas the PTs did not. Further analysis of the role of Th17 and Treg balance during pathogenic lentiviral infection may provide novel insights into our understanding of SIV and HIV pathogenesis and future thoughts about vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC2635016  PMID: 19214220
17.  High CD8+ T Cell Activation Marks a Less Differentiated HIV-1 Specific CD8+ T Cell Response that Is Not Altered by Suppression of Viral Replication 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(2):e4408.
The relationship of elevated T cell activation to altered T cell differentiation profiles, each defining features of HIV-1 infection, has not been extensively explored. We hypothesized that anti-retroviral suppression of T cell activation levels would lead to alterations in the T cell differentiation of total and HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cell responses among recently HIV-1 infected adults.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We performed a longitudinal study simultaneously measuring T cell activation and maturation markers on both total and antigen-specific T cells in recently infected adults: prior to treatment; after the initiation of HAART; and after treatment was halted. Prior to treatment, HIV-1 Gag–specific CD8+ T cells were predominantly of a highly activated, intermediate memory (CD27+CD28−) phenotype, while CMV pp65-specific CD8+ T cells showed a late memory (CD27−CD28−), low activation phenotype. Participants with the highest fraction of late memory (CD27−CD28−) HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cells had higher CD4+ T cell counts (rho = +0.74, p = 0.004). In turn, those with the highest fraction of intermediate memory (CD27+ CD28−) HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cells had high total CD8+ T cell activation (rho = +0.68, p = 0.01), indicating poorer long-term clinical outcomes. The HIV-1 specific T cell differentiation profile was not readily altered by suppression of T cell activation following HAART treatment.
A more differentiated, less activated HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cell response may be clinically protective. Anti-retroviral treatment initiated two to four months after infection lowered T cell activation but had no effect on the differentiation profile of the HIV-1-specific response. Intervention during the first month of acute infection may be required to shift the differentiation phenotype of HIV-1 specific responses to a more clinically favorable profile.
PMCID: PMC2634967  PMID: 19198651
18.  Conferral of Enhanced Natural Killer Cell Function by KIR3DS1 in Early Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Infection▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(10):4785-4792.
A flurry of recent reports on the role of activating and inhibitory forms of the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) in natural killer (NK) cell activity against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) have yielded widely divergent results. The role of the activating NK receptor encoded by the KIR3DS1 allele and its putative ligands, members of the HLA class I Bw4Ile80 cluster, in early HIV-1 disease is controversial. We selected 60 treatment-naïve adults for study from the OPTIONS cohort of individuals with early HIV-1 infection in San Francisco. We performed NK cell functional assays measuring gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and CD107a expression by NK cells in the unstimulated state and after stimulation by the major histocompatibility complex class I-deficient 721.221 B-lymphoblastoid cell line. In addition, we measured CD38 expression (a T-cell activation marker) on T and NK cells. Persons who have at least one copy of the KIR3DS1 gene had higher IFN-γ and CD107a expression in the unstimulated state compared to those who do not possess this gene. After stimulation, both groups experienced a large induction of IFN-γ and CD107a, with KIR3DS1 carriers achieving a greater amount of IFN-γ expression. Differences in effector activity correlating with KIR3DS1 were not attributable to joint carriage of HLA Bw4Ile80 and KIR3DS1. We detected a partial but not complete dependence of KIR3DS1 on the members of B*58 supertype (B*57 and B*58) leading to higher NK cell function. Possessing KIR3DS1 was associated with lower expression of CD38 on both CD8+ T and NK cells and with a loss or weakening of the known strong associations between CD8+ T-cell expression of CD38 mean fluorescence intensity and the HIV-1 viral load. We observed that possessing KIR3DS1 was associated with higher NK cell effector functions in early HIV-1 disease, despite the absence of HLA Bw4Ile80, a putative ligand of KIR3DS1. Carriage of KIR3DS1 was associated with diminished CD8+ T-cell activation, as determined by expression of CD38, and a disruption of the traditional relationship between viral load and activation in HIV-1 disease, which may lead to better clinical outcomes for these individuals.
PMCID: PMC2346752  PMID: 18305035
19.  Turning up the volume on mutational pressure: Is more of a good thing always better? (A case study of HIV-1 Vif and APOBEC3) 
Retrovirology  2008;5:26.
APOBEC3G and APOBEC3F are human cytidine deaminases that serve as innate antiviral defense mechanisms primarily by introducing C-to-U changes in the minus strand DNA of retroviruses during replication (resulting in G-to-A mutations in the genomic sense strand sequence). The HIV-1 Vif protein counteracts this defense by promoting the proteolytic degradation of APOBEC3G and APOBEC3F in the host cell. In the absence of Vif expression, APOBEC3 is incorporated into HIV-1 virions and the viral genome undergoes extensive G-to-A mutation, or "hypermutation", typically rendering it non-viable within a single replicative cycle. Consequently, Vif is emerging as an attractive target for pharmacological intervention and therapeutic vaccination. Although a highly effective Vif inhibitor may result in mutational meltdown of the viral quasispecies, a partially effective Vif inhibitor may accelerate the evolution of drug resistance and immune escape due to the codon structure and recombinogenic nature of HIV-1. This hypothesis rests on two principal assumptions which are supported by experimental evidence: a) there is a dose response between intracellular APOBEC concentration and degree of viral hypermutation, and, b) HIV-1 can tolerate an elevated mutation rate, and a true error or extinction threshold is as yet undetermined. Rigorous testing of this hypothesis will have timely and critical implications for the therapeutic management of HIV/AIDS, and delve into the complexities underlying the induction of lethal mutagenesis in a viral pathogen.
PMCID: PMC2323022  PMID: 18339206
20.  HIV-1/HSV-2 Co-Infected Adults in Early HIV-1 Infection Have Elevated CD4+ T Cell Counts 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(10):e1080.
HIV-1 is often acquired in the presence of pre-existing co-infections, such as Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2). We examined the impact of HSV-2 status at the time of HIV-1 acquisition for its impact on subsequent clinical course, and total CD4+ T cell phenotypes.
We assessed the relationship of HSV-1/HSV-2 co-infection status on CD4+ T cell counts and HIV-1 RNA levels over time prior in a cohort of 186 treatment naïve adults identified during early HIV-1 infection. We assessed the activation and differentiation state of total CD4+ T cells at study entry by HSV-2 status.
Of 186 recently HIV-1 infected persons, 101 (54 %) were sero-positive for HSV-2. There was no difference in initial CD8+ T cell count, or differences between the groups for age, gender, or race based on HSV-2 status. Persons with HIV-1/HSV-2 co-infection sustained higher CD4+ T cell counts over time (+69 cells/ul greater (SD = 33.7, p = 0.04) than those with HIV-1 infection alone (Figure 1), after adjustment for HIV-1 RNA levels (−57 cells per 1 log10 higher HIV-1 RNA, p<0.0001). We did not observe a relationship between HSV-2 infection status with plasma HIV-1 RNA levels over time. HSV-2 acquistion after HIV-1 acquisition had no impact on CD4+ count or viral load. We did not detect differences in CD4+ T cell activation or differentiation state by HSV-2+ status.
We observed no effect of HSV-2 status on viral load. However, we did observe that treatment naïve, recently HIV-1 infected adults co-infected with HSV-2+ at the time of HIV-1 acquisition had higher CD4+ T cell counts over time. If verified in other cohorts, this result poses a striking paradox, and its public health implications are not immediately clear.
PMCID: PMC2031920  PMID: 17957262
22.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1)-Specific CD8+ TEMRA Cells in Early Infection Are Linked to Control of HIV-1 Viremia and Predict the Subsequent Viral Load Set Point▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(11):5759-5765.
CD8+ T cells are believed to play an important role in the control of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. However, despite intensive efforts, it has not been possible to consistently link the overall magnitude of the CD8+ T-cell response with control of HIV-1. Here, we have investigated the association of different CD8+ memory T-cell subsets responding to HIV-1 in early infection with future control of HIV-1 viremia. Our results demonstrate that both a larger proportion and an absolute number of HIV-1-specific CD8+ CCR7− CD45RA+ effector memory T cells (TEMRA cells) were associated with a lower future viral load set point. In contrast, a larger absolute number of HIV-1-specific CD8+ CCR7− CD45RA− effector memory T cells (TEM) was not related to the viral load set point. Overall, the findings suggest that CD8+ TEMRA cells have superior antiviral activity and indicate that both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the CD8+ T-cell response need to be considered when defining the characteristics of protective immunity to HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC1900265  PMID: 17376902
24.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Superinfection Was Not Detected following 215 Years of Injection Drug User Exposure 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(1):94-103.
Evidence for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) superinfection was sought among 37 HIV-1-positive street-recruited active injection drug users (IDUs) from the San Francisco Bay area. HIV-1 sequences from pairs of samples collected 1 to 12 years apart, spanning a total of 215 years of exposure, were generated at p17 gag, the V3-V5 region of env, and/or the first exon of tat and phylogenetically analyzed. No evidence of HIV-1 superinfection was detected in which a highly divergent HIV-1 variant emerged at a frequency >20% of the serum viral quasispecies. Based on the reported risk behavior of the IDUs and the HIV-1 incidence in uninfected subjects in the same cohort, a total of 3.4 new infections would have been expected if existing infection conferred no protection from superinfection. Adjusted for risk behaviors, the estimated relative risk of superinfection compared with initial infection was therefore 0.0 (95% confidence interval, 0.00, 0.79; P = 0.02), indicating that existing infection conferred a statistically significant level of protection against superinfection with an HIV-1 strain of the same subtype, which was between 21 and 100%.
PMCID: PMC303392  PMID: 14671091
25.  Dual Pressure from Antiretroviral Therapy and Cell-Mediated Immune Response on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Protease Gene 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(12):6743-6752.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific CD8+ T-lymphocyte pressure can lead to the development of viral escape mutants, with consequent loss of immune control. Antiretroviral drugs also exert selection pressures on HIV, leading to the emergence of drug resistance mutations and increased levels of viral replication. We have determined a minimal epitope of HIV protease, amino acids 76 to 84, towards which a CD8+ T-lymphocyte response is directed. This epitope, which is HLA-A2 restricted, includes two amino acids that commonly mutate (V82A and I84V) in the face of protease inhibitor therapy. Among 29 HIV-infected patients who were treated with protease inhibitors and who had developed resistance to these drugs, we show that the wild-type PR82V76-84 epitope is commonly recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in HLA-A2-positive patients and that the CTL directed to this epitope are of high avidity. In contrast, the mutant PR82A76-84 epitope is generally not recognized by wild-type-specific CTL, or when recognized it is of low to moderate avidity, suggesting that the protease inhibitor-selected V82A mutation acts both as a CTL and protease inhibitor escape mutant. Paradoxically, the absence of a mutation at position 82 was associated with the presence of a high-avidity CD8+ T-cell response to the wild-type virus sequence. Our results indicate that both HIV type 1-specific CD8+ T cells and antiretroviral drugs provide complex pressures on the same amino acid sequence of the HIV protease gene and, thus, can influence viral sequence evolution.
PMCID: PMC156163  PMID: 12767994

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