Recent guidelines recommend antiretroviral therapy (ART) to be administered as early as possible during HIV-1 infection. Few studies addressed the immunological benefit of commencing ART during the acute phase of infection. We used mass cytometry to characterize blood CD4+ T cells from HIV-1–infected patients who initiated ART during acute or chronic phase of infection. Using this method, we analyzed a large number of markers on millions of individual immune cells. The results revealed that CD4+ T cell clusters with high expression of CD27, CD28, CD127, and CD44, whose function involves T cell migration to inflamed tissues and survival, are more abundant in healthy controls and patients initiating ART during the acute phase; on the contrary, CD4+ T cell clusters in patients initiating ART during the chronic phase had reduced expression of these markers. The results are suggestive of a better preserved immune function in HIV-1–infected patients initiating ART during acute infection.
Yonas Bekele, Tadepally Lakshmikanth, Yang Chen, Jaromir Mikes, Aikaterini Nasi, Stefan Petkov, Bo Hejdeman, Petter Brodin, Francesca Chiodi
Phenotypic differences of clusters that were more abundant in EA or LA patients illustrated by t-SNE single-cell data visualization.