The duodenum is a major site of HIV persistence during suppressive antiretroviral therapy despite harboring abundant tissue-resident memory (Trm) CD8+ T cells. The role of duodenal Trm CD8+ T cells in viral control is still not well defined. We examined the spatial localization, phenotype, and function of CD8+ T cells in the human duodenal tissue from people living with HIV (PLHIV) and healthy controls. We found that Trm (CD69+CD103hi) cells were the predominant CD8+ T cell population in the duodenum. Immunofluorescence imaging of the duodenal tissue revealed that CD103+CD8+ T cells were localized in the intraepithelial region, while CD103–CD8+ T cells and CD4+ T cells were mostly localized in the lamina propria (LP). Furthermore, HIV-specific CD8+ T cells were enriched in the CD69+CD103–/lo population. However, the duodenal HIV-specific CD8+ Trm cells rarely expressed canonical molecules for potent cytolytic function (perforin and granzyme B) but were more polyfunctional than those from peripheral blood. Taken together, our results show that duodenal CD8+ Trm cells possess limited perforin-mediated cytolytic potential and are spatially separated from HIV-susceptible LP CD4+ T cells. This could contribute to HIV persistence in the duodenum and provides critical information for the design of cure therapies.


Leonard Mvaya, Trevor Khaba, Agness E. Lakudzala, Thandeka Nkosi, Ndaru Jambo, Innocent Kadwala, Anstead Kankwatira, Priyanka D. Patel, Melita A. Gordon, Tonney S. Nyirenda, Kondwani C. Jambo, Zaza M. Ndhlovu


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