Infectious and inflammatory diseases have repeatedly shown strong genetic associations within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC); however, the basis for these associations remains elusive. To define host genetic effects on the outcome of a chronic viral infection, we performed genome-wide association analysis in a multiethnic cohort of HIV-1 controllers and progressors, and we analyzed the effects of individual amino acids within the classical human leukocyte antigen (HLA) proteins. We identified >300 genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the MHC and none elsewhere. Specific amino acids in the HLA-B peptide binding groove, as well as an independent HLA-C effect, explain the SNP associations and reconcile both protective and risk HLA alleles. These results implicate the nature of the HLA–viral peptide interaction as the major factor modulating durable control of HIV infection.
Despite complete or near-complete suppression of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication with combination antiretroviral therapy, both HIV and chronic inflammation/immune dysfunction persist indefinitely. Untangling the association between the virus and the host immune environment during therapy might lead to novel interventions aimed at either curing the infection or preventing the development of inflammation-associated end-organ disease. Chronic inflammation and immune dysfunction might lead to HIV persistence by causing virus production, generating new target cells, enabling infecting of activated and resting target cells, altering the migration patterns of susceptible target cells, increasing the proliferation of infected cells, and preventing normal HIV-specific clearance mechanisms from function. Chronic HIV production or replication might contribute to persistent inflammation and immune dysfunction. The rapidly evolving data on these issues strongly suggest that a vicious cycle might exist in which HIV persistence causes inflammation that in turn contributes to HIV persistence.
AIDS; immunodeficiency diseases; dell activation; cell differentiation; cell proliferation; inflammation
Antiretroviral therapy has been a spectacular success. People are now asking if the end of AIDS is possible. For those who are motivated to take therapy and who have access to lifelong treatment, AIDS-related illnesses are no longer the primary threat, but a new set of HIV-associated complications have emerged, resulting in a novel chronic disease that for many will span several decades of life. Treatment does not fully restore immune health; as a consequence, a number of inflammation-associated and/or immunodeficiency complications such as cardiovascular disease and cancer are increasing in importance. Cumulative toxicities from exposure to antiretroviral drugs for decades cause clinically-relevant metabolic disturbances and end-organ damage. There are growing concerns that the multi-morbidity associated with HIV disease may impact healthy aging and could overwhelm some health care systems, particularly those in resource-limited regions that have yet to fully develop a chronic care model. Given the problems inherent in treating and caring for a chronic disease that might persist for several decades, a global effort to identify a cure is now underway.
Progressive HIV infection is characterized by dysregulation of the intestinal immune barrier, translocation of immunostimulatory microbial products, and chronic systemic inflammation that is thought to drive progression of disease to AIDS. Elements of this pathologic process persist despite viral suppression during highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and drivers of these phenomena remain poorly understood. Disrupted intestinal immunity can precipitate dysbiosis that induces chronic inflammation in the mucosa and periphery of mice. However, putative microbial drivers of HIV-associated immunopathology versus recovery have not been identified in humans. Using high-resolution bacterial community profiling, we identified a dysbiotic mucosal-adherent community enriched in Proteobacteria and depleted of Bacteroidia members that was associated with markers of mucosal immune disruption, T cell activation, and chronic inflammation in HIV-infected subjects. Furthermore, this dysbiosis was evident among HIV-infected subjects undergoing HAART, and the extent of dysbiosis correlated with activity of the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan metabolism and plasma concentrations of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), two established markers of disease progression. Gut-resident bacteria with capacity to metabolize tryptophan through the kynurenine pathway were found to be enriched in HIV-infected subjects, strongly correlated with kynurenine levels in HIV-infected subjects, and capable of kynurenine production in vitro. These observations demonstrate a link between mucosal-adherent colonic bacteria and immunopathogenesis during progressive HIV infection, which is apparent even in the setting of viral suppression during HAART. This link suggests that gut-resident microbial populations may influence intestinal homeostasis during HIV disease.
Background. Studies aimed at defining the association between host immune responses and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) persistence during therapy are necessary to develop new strategies for cure.
Methods. We performed a comprehensive assessment of ultrasensitive plasma HIV RNA levels, cell-associated HIV RNA levels, proviral HIV DNA levels, and T cell immunophenotyping in a cohort of 190 subjects in whom HIV levels were suppressed by highly active antiretroviral therapy.
Results. The median CD4+ T cell count was 523 cells/mm3, and the median duration of viral suppression was 31 months. Cell-associated RNA and proviral DNA levels (but not ultrasensitive plasma HIV RNA levels) were positively correlated with frequencies of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing markers of T-cell activation/dysfunction (CD38, HLA-DR, CCR5, and/or programmed cell death protein 1 [PD-1]) (P < .05). Having a low CD4+ T-cell count despite receipt of virologically suppressive therapy was associated with high cell-associated RNA and proviral DNA levels (P < .01) and higher frequencies of CD4+ T cells expressing CD38, HLA-DR, CCR5, and/or PD-1 (P < .0001).
Conclusions. Cell-based measurements of viral persistence were consistently associated with markers of immune activation and the frequency of PD-1–expressing CD4+ T cells. Treated patients with a low CD4+ T-cell count had higher frequencies of PD-1–expressing CD4+ T cells and cell-based measures of viral persistence, suggesting that HIV infection in these individuals may be more difficult to cure and may require unique interventions.
HIV; raltegravir intensification; 2-LTR circles; ongoing viral replication; D-dimer
To compare asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) among HIV-infected and uninfected individuals and to evaluate predictors of ADMA in HIV infection.
HIV-infected individuals have high rates of atherosclerosis. Endothelial dysfunction is central to atherogenesis and is one possible mechanism underlying this increased cardiovascular risk. ADMA is an endogenous inhibitor of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Among uninfected individuals, higher ADMA levels predict cardiovascular events and mortality. The association between HIV infection, HIV-related factors, and ADMA has not been well described.
We compared ADMA in 248 HIV-infected individuals and 50 uninfected controls. We performed multivariable analysis using traditional cardiovascular and HIV-specific factors as covariates to identify factors associated with ADMA.
HIV-infected men were older, less often Caucasian, more hypertensive, and had lower HDL than uninfected men. The median duration of HIV infection was 13 years, median CD4+ count was 592 cells/μL, 76% had an undetectable viral load, and 76% were on antiretroviral therapy. ADMA levels were modestly higher in HIV-infected individuals than controls [median (IQR): 0.46μM (0.41–0.52) vs. 0.44μM (0.38–0.46), p=0.019], but the association lost statistical significance after controlling for cardiovascular risk factors (+0.028μM, p=0.054). Lower CD4+ count and both detectable and higher viral load were independently associated with increased ADMA.
ADMA levels were modestly elevated in the setting of HIV infection. Notably, a greater HIV-associated inflammatory burden, as evidenced by lower CD4+ counts and higher viral loads, was associated with increased ADMA levels. Our findingssuggest that HIV infection impairs endothelial function and predisposes to atherosclerosis through chronic inflammation and subsequent accumulation of ADMA.
HIV; Asymmetric dimethylarginine; Endothelial dysfunction; Nitric oxide
Alpha interferon (IFN-α) suppresses human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication in vitro by inducing cell-intrinsic retroviral restriction mechanisms. We investigated the effects of IFN-α/ribavirin (IFN-α/riba) treatment on 34 anti-HIV-1 restriction factors in vivo. Expression of several anti-HIV-1 restriction factors was significantly induced by IFN-α/riba in HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV)-coinfected individuals. Fold induction of cumulative restriction factor expression in CD4+ T cells was significantly correlated with viral load reduction during IFN-α/riba treatment (r2 = 0.649; P < 0.016). Exogenous IFN-α induces supraphysiologic restriction factor expression associated with a pronounced decrease in HIV-1 viremia.
Some antiretroviral treated HIV-infected patients develop Kaposi's sarcoma despite long-term suppression of HIV replication. These Kaposi's sarcoma lesions are consistent with Kaposi's sarcoma observed in the elderly uninfected population (`classical Kaposi's sarcoma'). We investigated potential mechanisms for this phenomenon, focusing on measures of immune activation and T-cell senescence.
We compared markers of immunosenescence, naive T cells, activation, and inflammation in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from antiretroviral-treated participants with new-onset Kaposi's sarcoma (cases, n = 19) and from treated individuals without Kaposi's sarcoma (controls, n = 47).
There was increased frequency of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells with an immunosenescence phenotype (CD57+ and CD28−) in cases vs. controls (CD4+T cells: CD57+ 7.4 vs. 3.7%, P = 0.025; CD28− 9.1 vs. 4.8%, P = 0.025; CD8+ T cells: CD57+ 41.5 vs. 27.7%, P = 0.003; CD28− 60.5 vs. 51.3%, P = 0.041). Cases had lower proportions of naïve T cells (CD27+CD28+CD45RA+) in CD4+ (23.0 vs. 32.2%, P = 0.023) and CD8+ (11.3 vs. 20.7%, P < 0.001) T-cell compartments. CCR5 was more highly expressed in CD4+ (16.3 vs. 11.0%, P = 0.025), and CD8+ (43.1 vs. 28.3%, P <0.001) T-cell compartments in cases vs. controls. There was no difference in telomere length or telomerase activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, or in T-cell expression of activation markers (HLADR+CD38+).
Among antiretroviral-treated patients, increased frequencies of T cells with an immunosenescence phenotype and lower frequencies of naive T cells were associated with presence of Kaposi's sarcoma among effectively treated patients. These data suggest that certain immunologic perturbations –including those associated with aging – might be causally associated with development of Kaposi's sarcoma.
aging; CCR5; CD28; CD57; immunosenescence; Kaposi's sarcoma; senescence
Antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection requires life-long access and strict adherence to regimens that are both expensive and associated with toxicities. There is growing recognition that a curative intervention will be needed to fully stop the epidemic. The failure to eradicate HIV infection during long-term antiretroviral therapy reflects the intrinsic stability of the viral genome in latently infected CD4+ T cells and other cells and perhaps ongoing low-level viral replication. Heterogeneity in latently infected cell populations and homeostatic proliferation of infected cells may influence the dynamics of virus production and persistence. Chronic immune activation, inflammation and immune dysfunction persist despite potent antiretroviral therapy and likely have important effects on the size and distribution of the viral reservoir. The inability of the immune system to recognize cells harboring latent virus and to eliminate cells actively producing virus represents the biggest challenge to finding a cure. In this perspective, we highlight new approaches toward unraveling the complex virus-host interactions that lead to persistent infection and latency and discuss the rationale for combining novel therapeutic strategies with current antiretroviral treatment options with the goal of curing HIV disease.
Histone Deacetylases; Epigenetics; Gene Silencing; HIV-1 /immunology
A low CD4/CD8 ratio in elderly HIV-uninfected adults is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. A subset of HIV-infected adults receiving effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) fails to normalize this ratio, even after they achieve normal CD4+ T cell counts. The immunologic and clinical characteristics of this clinical phenotype remain undefined. Using data from four distinct clinical cohorts and three clinical trials, we show that a low CD4/CD8 ratio in HIV-infected adults during otherwise effective ART (after CD4 count recovery above 500 cells/mm3) is associated with a number of immunological abnormalities, including a skewed T cell phenotype from naïve toward terminally differentiated CD8+ T cells, higher levels of CD8+ T cell activation (HLADR+CD38+) and senescence (CD28− and CD57+CD28−), and higher kynurenine/tryptophan ratio. Changes in the peripheral CD4/CD8 ratio are also reflective of changes in gut mucosa, but not in lymph nodes. In a longitudinal study, individuals who initiated ART within six months of infection had greater CD4/CD8 ratio increase compared to later initiators (>2 years). After controlling for age, gender, ART duration, nadir and CD4 count, the CD4/CD8 ratio predicted increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Hence, a persistently low CD4/CD8 ratio during otherwise effective ART is associated with increased innate and adaptive immune activation, an immunosenescent phenotype, and higher risk of morbidity/mortality. This ratio may prove useful in monitoring response to ART and could identify a unique subset of individuals needed of novel therapeutic interventions.
The CD4/CD8 ratio, a hallmark of the collection of T cell defects related to aging –“immunosenescence”- and a predictor of mortality in the general population, often fails to normalize in an important proportion of HIV-infected individuals with adequate CD4+ T cell recovery after ART initiation. However, the immunological and clinical characteristics of this clinical phenotype have not been elucidated. Herein we show that during treated HIV infection, expansion of CD8+ T cells, reflected as a low CD4/CD8 ratio, identifies a subgroup of individuals with a number of immunological abnormalities and a poor prognosis. These subjects exhibit increased innate and adaptive immune activation, an immunosenescent phenotype, CD4+ and CD8+ imbalance in the gut mucosa and higher risk of morbidity and mortality. In contrast, those who normalize the CD4/CD8 ratio have traits of a healthy immune system. We observed that early ART initiation might contribute to more rapid and robust CD4/CD8 ratio normalization compared to later initiation. Hence, the CD4/CD8 ratio might help to further discriminate the risk of disease progression of successfully treated HIV-infected individuals, and a successful response to ART may require both normalization of the peripheral CD4+ T cell count and the ratio of CD4+ to CD8+ T cell counts.
During HIV infection, IL-10/IL-10 receptor and programmed death-1 (PD-1)/programmed death-1-ligand (PD-L1) interactions have been implicated in the impairment of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) activity. Despite antiretroviral therapy (ART), attenuated anti-HIV CTL functions present a major hurdle towards curative measures requiring viral eradication. Therefore, deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying impaired CTL is crucial before HIV viral eradication is viable. The generation of robust CTL activity necessitates interactions between antigen-presenting cells (APC), CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. We have shown that in vitro, IL-10hiPD-L1hi regulatory B cells (Bregs) directly attenuate HIV-specific CD8+-mediated CTL activity. Bregs also modulate APC and CD4+ T cell function; herein we characterize the Breg compartment in uninfected (HIVNEG), HIV-infected “elite controllers” (HIVEC), ART-treated (HIVART), and viremic (HIVvir), subjects, and in vitro, assess the impact of Bregs on anti-HIV CTL generation and activity after reactivation of HIV latent reservoirs using suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA). We find that Bregs from HIVEC and HIVART subjects exhibit comparable IL-10 expression levels significantly higher than HIVNEG subjects, but significantly lower than HIVVIR subjects. Bregs from HIVEC and HIVART subjects exhibit comparable PD-L1 expression, significantly higher than in HIVVIR and HIVNEG subjects. SAHA-treated Breg-depleted PBMC from HIVEC and HIVART subjects, displayed enhanced CD4+ T-cell proliferation, significant upregulation of antigen-presentation molecules, increased frequency of CD107a+ and HIV-specific CD8+ T cells, associated with efficient elimination of infected CD4+ T cells, and reduction in integrated viral DNA. Finally, IL-10-R and PD-1 antibody blockade partially reversed Breg-mediated inhibition of CD4+ T-cell proliferation. Our data suggest that, possibly, via an IL-10 and PD-L1 synergistic mechanism; Bregs likely inhibit APC function and CD4+ T-cell proliferation, leading to anti-HIV CTL attenuation, hindering viral eradication.
In the last decade, timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy and resulting virologic suppression have greatly improved in North America concurrent with the development of better tolerated and more potent regimens, but significant barriers to treatment uptake remain.
Background. Since the mid-1990s, effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens have improved in potency, tolerability, ease of use, and class diversity. We sought to examine trends in treatment initiation and resulting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virologic suppression in North America between 2001 and 2009, and demographic and geographic disparities in these outcomes.
Methods. We analyzed data on HIV-infected individuals newly clinically eligible for ART (ie, first reported CD4+ count <350 cells/µL or AIDS-defining illness, based on treatment guidelines during the study period) from 17 North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design cohorts. Outcomes included timely ART initiation (within 6 months of eligibility) and virologic suppression (≤500 copies/mL, within 1 year). We examined time trends and considered differences by geographic location, age, sex, transmission risk, race/ethnicity, CD4+ count, and viral load, and documented psychosocial barriers to ART initiation, including non–injection drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and mental illness.
Results. Among 10 692 HIV-infected individuals, the cumulative incidence of 6-month ART initiation increased from 51% in 2001 to 72% in 2009 (Ptrend < .001). The cumulative incidence of 1-year virologic suppression increased from 55% to 81%, and among ART initiators, from 84% to 93% (both Ptrend < .001). A greater number of psychosocial barriers were associated with decreased ART initiation, but not virologic suppression once ART was initiated. We found significant heterogeneity by state or province of residence (P < .001).
Conclusions. In the last decade, timely ART initiation and virologic suppression have greatly improved in North America concurrent with the development of better-tolerated and more potent regimens, but significant barriers to treatment uptake remain, both at the individual level and systemwide.
antiretroviral therapy; healthcare disparities; HIV; time factors; viral load
The contribution of HLA class II-restricted CD4+ T cell responses to HIV immune control is poorly defined. Here, we delineated novel peptide-DRB1 restrictions in functional assays and analyzed the host genetic effects of HLA-DRB1 alleles on HIV viremia in a large cohort of HIV controllers and progressors (n=1085). We found distinct stratifications in the effect of HLA-DRB1 alleles on HIV viremia, with DRB1*15:02 significantly associated with low viremia (P=0.003, q=0.04) and DRB1*03:01 significantly associated with high viremia (P=0.004, q=0.04). Interestingly, a sub-group of HLA-DRB1 alleles linked with low viremia showed the ability to promiscuously present a larger breadth of peptides with lower functional avidity when compared to HLA-DRB1 alleles linked with high viremia (p=0.018). Our data provide systematic evidence that HLA-DRB1 allele expression significantly impacts the durable control of HIV replication, an effect that appears to be mediated primarily by the protein-specificity of HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses to Gag and Nef.
We compared the plasma viromes of HIV-infected subjects with low versus high CD4+ T cell counts from the United States and Uganda by using deep sequencing and detected HIV, hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, GB virus C, anellovirus, and human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) reads. An increase in the proportion of reads for anelloviruses, a family of highly prevalent and genetically diverse human viruses, was seen in subjects with AIDS from both countries. The proportion of endogenous human retrovirus reads was increased in AIDS subjects from Uganda but not the United States. Progression to AIDS is therefore associated with changes in the plasma concentration of commensal viruses.
Natural progression of HIV-1 infection depends on genetic variation in the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I locus, and the CD8+ T cell response is thought to be a primary mechanism of this effect. However, polymorphism within the MHC may also alter innate immune activity against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) by changing interactions of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules with leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors (LILR), a group of immunoregulatory receptors mainly expressed on myelomonocytic cells including dendritic cells (DCs). We used previously characterized HLA allotype-specific binding capacities of LILRB1 and LILRB2 as well as data from a large cohort of HIV-1-infected individuals (N = 5126) to test whether LILR-HLA class I interactions influence viral load in HIV-1 infection. Our analyses in persons of European descent, the largest ethnic group examined, show that the effect of HLA-B alleles on HIV-1 control correlates with the binding strength between corresponding HLA-B allotypes and LILRB2 (p = 10−2). Moreover, overall binding strength of LILRB2 to classical HLA class I allotypes, defined by the HLA-A/B/C genotypes in each patient, positively associates with viral replication in the absence of therapy in patients of both European (p = 10−11–10−9) and African (p = 10−5–10−3) descent. This effect appears to be driven by variations in LILRB2 binding affinities to HLA-B and is independent of individual class I allelic effects that are not related to the LILRB2 function. Correspondingly, in vitro experiments suggest that strong LILRB2-HLA binding negatively affects antigen-presenting properties of DCs. Thus, we propose an impact of LILRB2 on HIV-1 disease outcomes through altered regulation of DCs by LILRB2-HLA engagement.
Leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors B1 and B2 (LILRB1 and LILRB2) bind HLA class I allotypes with variable affinities. Here, we show that the binding strength of LILRB2 to HLA class I positively associates with level of viremia in a large cohort of untreated HIV-1-infected patients. This effect appears to be driven by HLA-B polymorphism and demonstrates independence from class I allelic effects on viral load. Our in vitro experiments suggest that strong LILRB2-HLA binding negatively affects antigen-presenting properties of dendritic cells (DCs). Thus, we propose an impact of LILRB2 on HIV-1 immune control through altered regulation of DCs by LILRB2-HLA engagement.
Chronic antigenic stimulation by cytomegalovirus (CMV) is thought to increase “immunosenesence” of aging, characterized by accumulation of terminally differentiated CD28- CD8+ T cells and increased CD57, a marker of proliferative history. Whether chronic HIV infection causes similar effects is currently unclear.
We compared markers of CD8+ T cell differentiation (e.g., CD28, CD27, CCR7, CD45RA) and CD57 expression on CD28- CD8+ T cells in healthy HIV-uninfected adults with and without CMV infection and in both untreated and antiretroviral therapy (ART)-suppressed HIV-infected adults with asymptomatic CMV infection.
Compared to HIV-uninfected adults without CMV (n = 12), those with asymptomatic CMV infection (n = 31) had a higher proportion of CD28-CD8+ T cells expressing CD57 (P = 0.005). Older age was also associated with greater proportions of CD28-CD8+ T cells expressing CD57 (rho: 0.47, P = 0.007). In contrast, untreated HIV-infected CMV+ participants (n = 55) had much lower proportions of CD28- CD8+ cells expressing CD57 than HIV-uninfected CMV+ participants (P<0.0001) and were enriched for less well-differentiated CD28- transitional memory (TTR) CD8+ T cells (P<0.0001). Chronically HIV-infected adults maintaining ART-mediated viral suppression (n = 96) had higher proportions of CD28-CD8+ T cells expressing CD57 than untreated patients (P<0.0001), but continued to have significantly lower levels than HIV-uninfected controls (P = 0.001). Among 45 HIV-infected individuals initiating their first ART regimen, the proportion of CD28-CD8+ T cells expressing CD57 declined (P<0.0001), which correlated with a decline in percent of transitional memory CD8+ T cells, and appeared to be largely explained by a decline in CD28-CD57- CD8+ T cell counts rather than an expansion of CD28-CD57+ CD8+ T cell counts.
Unlike CMV and aging, which are associated with terminal differentiation and proliferation of effector memory CD8+ T cells, HIV inhibits this process, expanding less well-differentiated CD28- CD8+ T cells and decreasing the proportion of CD28- CD8+ T cells that express CD57.
Abacavir use has been associated with cardiovascular risk, but it is unknown whether this association may be partly explained by patients with kidney disease being preferentially treated with abacavir to avoid tenofovir. Our objective was to compare associations of abacavir and tenofovir with cardiovascular risks in HIV-infected veterans.
Cohort study of 10 931 HIV-infected patients initiating antiretroviral therapy in the Veterans Health Administration from 1997 to 2007, using proportional hazards survival regression.
Primary predictors were exposure to abacavir or tenofovir within the past 6 months, compared with no exposure to these drugs, respectively. Outcomes were time to first atherosclerotic cardiovascular event, defined as coronary, cerebrovascular, or peripheral arterial disease; and time to incident heart failure.
Over 60 588 person-years of observation, there were 501 cardiovascular and 194 heart failure events. Age-standardized event rates among abacavir and tenofovir users were 12.5 versus 8.2 per 1000 person-years for cardiovascular disease, and 3.9 and 3.7 per 1000 person-years for heart failure, respectively. In multivariate-adjusted models, including time-updated measurements of kidney function, recent abacavir use was significantly associated with incident cardiovascular disease [hazard ratio 1.48, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08–2.04]; the association was similar but nonsignificant for heart failure (1.45, 0.85–2.47). In contrast, recent tenofovir use was significantly associated with heart failure (1.82, 1.02–3.24), but not with cardiovascular events (0.78, 0.52–1.16).
Recent abacavir exposure was independently associated with increased risk for cardiovascular events. We also observed an association between recent tenofovir exposure and heart failure, which needs to be confirmed in future studies.
antiretroviral therapy; cardiovascular disease; heart failure; HIV
Even in the setting of maximally suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV persists indefinitely. Several mechanisms might contribute to this persistence, including chronic inflammation and immune dysfunction. In this study, we have explored a preclinical model for the evaluation of potential interventions that might serve to eradicate or to minimize the level of persistent virus. Given data that metabolic products of the inducible enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygeanse (IDO) might foster inflammation and viral persistence, chronically simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected, ART-treated rhesus macaques were treated with the IDO inhibitor 1-methyl tryptophan (1mT). Orally administered 1mT achieved targeted plasma levels, but did not impact tryptophan metabolism or decrease viral RNA or DNA in plasma or in intestinal tissues beyond levels achieved by ART alone. Animals treated with 1mT showed no difference in the levels of T cell activation or differentiation, or in the kinetics or magnitude of viral rebound following cessation of ART. Notwithstanding these negative results, our observations suggest that the chronically SIV-infected rhesus macaque on suppressive ART can serve as a tractable model in which to test and to prioritize the selection of other potential interventions designed to eradicate HIV in vivo. In addition, this model might be used to optimize the route and dose by which such interventions are administered and the methods by which their effects are monitored.
Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) comprise about 8% of the human genome and have lost their ability to replicate or to produce infectious particles after having accumulated mutations over time. We assessed the kinetics of expression of HERV-K (HML-2) Envelope mRNA transcript and surface unit (SU) and transmembrane (TM) subunit proteins during HIV-1 infection. We also mapped the specificity of the humoral response to HERV-K (HML-2) Envelope protein in HIV-1 infected subjects at different stages of disease, and correlated the response with plasma viral load.
We found that HIV-1 modified HERV-K (HML-2) Env mRNA expression, resulting in the expression of a fully N-glycosylated HERV-K (HML-2) envelope protein on the cell surface. Serological mapping of HERV-K (HML-2) envelope protein linear epitopes revealed two major immunogenic domains, one on SU and another on the ectodomain of TM. The titers of HERV-K (HML-2) TM antibodies were dramatically increased in HIV-1 infected subjects (p < 0.0001). HIV-1 infected adults who control HIV-1 in the absence of therapy (“elite” controllers) had a higher titer response against TM compared to antiretroviral-treated adults (p < 0.0001) and uninfected adults (p < 0.0001).
These data collectively suggest that HIV-1 infection induces fully glycosylated HERV-K (HML-2) envelope TM protein to which antibodies are induced. These anti-HERV-K (HML-2) TM antibodies are a potential marker of HIV-1 infection, and are at higher titer in elite controllers. HERV-K (HML-2) envelope TM protein may be a new therapeutic target in HIV-1 infection.
HIV; Antibody; HERV; Endogenous retroviruses; Transmembrane; Envelope; Elite controllers; Alternative transcripts
Cardiovascular complications are more common in human immunodeficiency virus–infected individuals than in age-matched uninfected individuals. Antiretroviral therapy reduces the risk of cardiovascular complications, suggesting that viral replication directly or indirectly causes vascular disease. Long-term effective antiretroviral therapy does not fully restore vascular health, and treated adults continue to have higher-than-expected rates of disease progression. Although this excess risk during therapy is likely due to multiple factors, a growing body of evidence suggests that chronic inflammation, which persists during effective antiretroviral therapy, is directly and causally associated with vascular dysfunction and the accelerated development of atherosclerosis.
HIV; pulmonary hypertension; Doppler echocardiography; right heart catheterization
The ability to reconstitute a normal immune system with antiretroviral therapy in the setting of HIV infection remains uncertain. This study aimed to characterize quantitative and qualitative aspects of various T cell subpopulations that do not improve despite effective ART. CD4∶CD8 ratio was evaluated in HIV-infected subjects with viral loads >10,000 copies/µl (“non-controllers”, n = 42), those with undetectable viral loads on ART (“ART-suppressed”, n = 53), and HIV-uninfected subjects (n = 22). In addition, T cell phenotype and function were examined in 25 non-controllers, 18 ART-suppressed, and 7 HIV-uninfected subjects. CD4∶CD8 ratio in non-controllers, ART-suppressed, and HIV-uninfected subjects was 0.25, 0.48, and 1.95 respectively (P<0.0001 for all comparisons). The increased ratio in ART-suppressed compared to non-controllers was driven by an increase of CD4+ T cells, with no change in the expanded CD8+ T cell population. Expansion of differentiated (CD28−CD27−CD45RA+/−CCR7−) T cell subpopulations persisted despite ART and minimal changes were noted in naïve T cell frequencies over time. Increased number of CD8+CD28− T cells and increased CD8+ CMV-specific T cell responses were associated with a decreased CD4∶CD8 ratio. Measures of T cell function demonstrated persistence of high frequencies of CD8+ T cells producing IFN–γ. Lastly, though all CD8+ subpopulations demonstrated significantly lower Ki67 expression in ART-suppressed subjects, CD4+ T cell subpopulations did not consistently show this decrease, thus demonstrating different proliferative responses in the setting of T cell depletion. In summary, this study demonstrated that CD4∶CD8 ratios remained significantly decreased and naïve T cell numbers were slow to increase despite long-term viral suppression on ART. In addition, there is a evidence of differential regulation of the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subpopulations, suggesting independent homeostatic regulation of the two compartments.
Background. Antiretroviral therapy (ART)–mediated immune reconstitution fails to restore the capacity of the immune system to spontaneously control human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication.
Methods. A total of 23 HIV type 1 (HIV-1)–infected, virologically suppressed subjects receiving ART (CD4+ T-cell count, >450 cells/μL) were randomly assigned to have 180 μg/week (for arm A) or 90 μg/week (for arm B) of pegylated (Peg) interferon alfa-2a added to their current ART regimen. After 5 weeks, ART was interrupted, and Peg–interferon alfa-2a was continued for up to 12 weeks (the primary end point), with an option to continue to 24 weeks. End points included virologic failure (viral load, ≥400 copies/mL) and adverse events. Residual viral load and HIV-1 DNA integration were also assessed.
Results. At week 12 of Peg–interferon alfa-2a monotherapy, viral suppression was observed in 9 of 20 subjects (45%), a significantly greater proportion than expected (arm A, P = .0088; arm B, P = .0010; combined arms, P < .0001). Over 24 weeks, both arms had lower proportions of subjects who had viral load, compared with the proportion of subjects in a historical control group (arm A, P = .0046; arm B, P = .0011). Subjects who had a sustained viral load of <400 copies/mL had decreased levels of integrated HIV DNA (P = .0313) but increased residual viral loads (P = .0078), compared with subjects who experienced end-point failure.
Conclusions. Peg–interferon alfa-2a immunotherapy resulted in control of HIV replication and decreased HIV-1 integration, supporting a role for immunomediated approaches in HIV suppression and/or eradication.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00594880.
HIV-1; interferon-alpha; viral integration; immunotherapy
Viremic slow progressors (VSP) are a rare subset of HIV-infected persons who exhibit slow immunologic progression despite high viremia. The mechanisms associated with this slow progression remain to be defined. Clinical characteristics of VSP are similar to those of natural hosts for simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), such as sooty mangabeys (SM) and African green monkeys (AGM), who maintain near-normal CD4 counts despite high-level viremia but maintain low immune activation. Immune activation is a powerful predictor of disease progression, and we hypothesized that low immune activation might also explain the VSP phenotype. Using multiparameter flow cytometry, we assessed levels of T cell activation and regulatory T cells (Treg) in blood and rectal mucosa of VSP, typical progressors, virologic controllers, and seronegative controls. We also assessed Treg function and CD4 T cell proliferative capacity in VSP. Contrary to expectations, we found that VSP subjects have high levels of T cell activation in the gastrointestinal mucosa. The ratio of Treg to CD3+ T cells in the mucosa of VSP was relatively low, potentially contributing to increased immune activation. Nonetheless, CD4+CD25– T cells isolated from these individuals displayed a comparatively weak proliferative response to anti-CD3 stimulation. These data reveal that the VSP phenotype is associated with elevated markers of mucosal immune activation and low numbers of mucosal Treg, suggesting that factors other than immune activation account for this phenotype.