IL-7 regulates homeostatic mechanisms that maintain the overall size of the T cell pool throughout life. We show that, under steady-state conditions, IL-7 signaling is principally mediated by activation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 5 (STAT5). In contrast, under lymphopenic conditions, there is a modulation of STAT1 expression resulting in an IL-7–dependent STAT1 and STAT5 activation. Consequently, the IL-7–induced transcriptome is altered with enrichment of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). Moreover, STAT1 overexpression was associated with reduced survival in CD4+ T cells undergoing lymphopenia-induced proliferation (LIP). We propose a model in which T cells undergoing LIP upregulate STAT1 protein, “switching on” an alternate IL-7–dependent program. This mechanism could be a physiological process to regulate the expansion and size of the CD4+ T cell pool. During HIV infection, the virus could exploit this pathway, leading to the homeostatic dysregulation of the T cell pools observed in these patients.
Cecile Le Saout, Megan A. Luckey, Alejandro V. Villarino, Mindy Smith, Rebecca B. Hasley, Timothy G. Myers, Hiromi Imamichi, Jung-Hyun Park, John J. O’Shea, H. Clifford Lane, Marta Catalfamo
Biological aging is associated with immune activation (IA) and declining immunity due to systemic inflammation. It is widely accepted that HIV infection causes persistent IA and premature immune senescence despite effective antiretroviral therapy and virologic suppression; however, the effects of combined HIV infection and aging are not well defined. Here, we assessed the relationship between markers of IA and inflammation during biological aging in HIV-infected and -uninfected populations. Antibody response to seasonal influenza vaccination was implemented as a measure of immune competence and relationships between IA, inflammation, and antibody responses were explored using statistical modeling appropriate for integrating high-dimensional data sets. Our results show that markers of IA, such as coexpression of HLA antigen D related (HLA-DR) and CD38 on CD4+ T cells, exhibit strong associations with HIV infection but not with biological age. Certain variables that showed a strong relationship with aging, such as declining naive and CD38+ CD4 and CD8+ T cells, did so regardless of HIV infection. Interestingly, the variable of biological age was not identified in a predictive model as significantly impacting vaccine responses in either group, while distinct IA and inflammatory variables were closely associated with vaccine response in HIV-infected and -uninfected populations. These findings shed light on the most relevant and persistent immune defects during virological suppression with antiretroviral therapy.
Lesley R. de Armas, Suresh Pallikkuth, Varghese George, Stefano Rinaldi, Rajendra Pahwa, Kristopher L. Arheart, Savita Pahwa
BACKGROUND. HIV-infected individuals, even well controlled with combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), have systemic inflammation and comorbidities. Substance P (SP) is an undecapeptide, which mediates neurotransmission and inflammation through its cognate neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R). Plasma SP levels are elevated in HIV-infected individuals. The FDA-approved antiemetic aprepitant, an NK1R antagonist, has anti-HIV effects and antiinflammatory actions. We evaluated the safety, pharmacokinetics, and antiinflammatory properties of aprepitant in HIV-positive individuals receiving cART. METHODS. We conducted a phase 1B study of 12 HIV-positive individuals on a ritonavir-containing regimen (HIV viral load less than 40 copies/ml and CD4 > 400 cells/μl). Participants received open-label aprepitant 375 mg per day for 28 days and were followed for an additional 30 days. Changes in plasma levels of proinflammatory markers were assessed using flow cytometry, ELISA, luminex, and SOMAscan assays. RESULTS. The mean peak aprepitant plasma concentration was 30.7 ± 15.3 μg/ml at day 14 and 23.3 ± 12.3 μg/ml at day 28. Aprepitant treatment resulted in decreased plasma SP levels and affected 176 plasma proteins (56 after FDR) and several metabolic pathways, including inflammation and lipid metabolism. No change in soluble CD163 was observed. Aprepitant treatment was associated with a moderate increases in total and HDL cholesterol and affected select hematologic and metabolic markers, which returned to baseline levels 30 days after aprepitant treatment was stopped. There were 12 mild and 10 moderate adverse events (AE). CONCLUSIONS. Aprepitant is safe and well tolerated. The antiinflammatory properties of aprepitant make it a possible adjunctive therapy for comorbid conditions associated with HIV infection. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02154360). FUNDING. This research was funded by NIH UO1 MH090325, P30 MH097488, and PO1 MH105303.
Sergei Spitsin, Pablo Tebas, Jeffrey S. Barrett, Vasiliki Pappa, Deborah Kim, Deanne Taylor, Dwight L. Evans, Steven D. Douglas
Eradication of the HIV-1 latent reservoir represents the current paradigm to developing a cure for AIDS. HIV-1 has evolved multiple mechanisms to evade CD8 T cell responses, including HIV-1 Nef–mediated downregulation of MHC-I from the surface of infected cells. Nef transcripts and protein are detectable in samples from aviremic donors, suggesting that Nef expression in latently HIV-1–infected CD4 T cells protects them from immune-mediated clearance. Here, we tested 4 small molecule inhibitors of HIV-1 Nef in an in vitro primary CD4 T cell latency model and measured the ability of autologous ex vivo or HIV-1 peptide–expanded CD8 T cells to recognize and kill latently infected cells as a function of inhibitor treatment. Nef inhibition enhanced cytokine secretion by autologous CD8 T cells against latently HIV-1–infected targets in an IFN-γ release assay. Additionally, CD8 T cell–mediated elimination of latently HIV-1–infected cells was significantly enhanced following Nef blockade, measured as a reduction in the frequency of infected cells and Gag protein in cultures following viral outgrowth assays. We demonstrate for the first time to our knowledge that Nef blockade, in combination with HIV-specific CD8 T cell expansion, might be a feasible strategy to target the HIV-1 latent reservoir that should be tested further in vivo.
Shariq Mujib, Aamir Saiyed, Saleh Fadel, Ardalan Bozorgzad, Nasra Aidarus, Feng Yun Yue, Erika Benko, Colin Kovacs, Lori A. Emert-Sedlak, Thomas E. Smithgall, Mario A. Ostrowski
Promising therapeutic approaches for eradicating HIV include transcriptional activation of provirus from latently infected cells using latency-reversing agents (LRAs) and immune-mediated clearance to purge reservoirs. Accurate detection of cells capable of producing viral antigens and virions, and the measurement of clearance of infected cells, is essential to assessing therapeutic efficacy. Here, we apply enhanced methodology extending the sensitivity limits for the rapid detection of subfemtomolar HIV gag p24 capsid protein in CD4+ T cells from ART-suppressed HIV+ individuals, and we show viral protein induction following treatment with LRAs. Importantly, we demonstrate that clinical administration of histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis; vorinostat and panobinostat) induced HIV gag p24, and ex vivo stimulation produced sufficient viral antigen to elicit immune-mediated cell killing using anti-gp120/CD3 bispecific antibody. These findings extend beyond classical nucleic acid endpoints, which are confounded by the predominance of mutated, defective proviruses and, of paramount importance, enable assessment of cells making HIV protein that can now be targeted by immunological approaches.
Guoxin Wu, Michael Swanson, Aarthi Talla, Donald Graham, Julie Strizki, Daniel Gorman, Richard J.O. Barnard, Wade Blair, Ole S. Søgaard, Martin Tolstrup, Lars Østergaard, Thomas A. Rasmussen, Rafick-Pierre Sekaly, Nancie M. Archin, David M. Margolis, Daria J. Hazuda, Bonnie J. Howell
Gut-associated lymphoid tissues are enriched in CCR6+ Th17-polarized CD4+ T cells that contribute to HIV-1 persistence during antiretroviral therapy (ART). This raises the need for Th17-targeted immunotherapies. In an effort to identify mechanisms governing HIV-1 permissiveness/persistence in gut-homing Th17 cells, we analyzed the transcriptome of CCR6+ versus CCR6– T cells exposed to the gut-homing inducer retinoic acid (RA) and performed functional validations in colon biopsies of HIV-infected individuals receiving ART (HIV+ART). Although both CCR6+ and CCR6– T cells acquired gut-homing markers upon RA exposure, the modulation of unique sets of genes coincided with preferential HIV-1 replication in RA-treated CCR6+ T cells. This molecular signature included the upregulation of HIV-dependency factors acting at entry/postentry levels, such as the CCR5 and PI3K/Akt/mTORC1 signaling pathways. Of note, mTOR expression/phosphorylation was distinctively induced by RA in CCR6+ T cells. Consistently, mTOR inhibitors counteracted the effect of RA on HIV replication in vitro and viral reactivation in CD4+ T cells from HIV+ART individuals via postentry mechanisms independent of CCR5. Finally, CCR6+ versus CCR6– T cells infiltrating the colons of HIV+ART individuals expressed unique molecular signatures, including higher levels of CCR5, integrin β7, and mTOR phosphorylation. Together, our results identify mTOR as a druggable key regulator of HIV permissiveness in gut-homing CCR6+ T cells.
Delphine Planas, Yuwei Zhang, Patricia Monteiro, Jean-Philippe Goulet, Annie Gosselin, Nathalie Grandvaux, Thomas J. Hope, Ariberto Fassati, Jean-Pierre Routy, Petronela Ancuta
The direct link between sustained type I interferon (IFN-I) signaling and HIV-1–induced immunopathogenesis during chronic infection remains unclear. Here we report studies using a monoclonal antibody to block IFN-α/β receptor 1 (IFNAR1) signaling during persistent HIV-1 infection in humanized mice (hu-mice). We discovered that, during chronic HIV-1 infection, IFNAR blockade increased viral replication, which was correlated with elevated T cell activation. Thus, IFN-Is suppress HIV-1 replication during the chronic phase but are not essential for HIV-1–induced aberrant immune activation. Surprisingly, IFNAR blockade rescued both total human T cell and HIV-specific T cell numbers despite elevated HIV-1 replication and immune activation. We showed that IFNAR blockade reduced HIV-1–induced apoptosis of CD4+ T cells. Importantly, IFNAR blockade also rescued the function of human T cells, including HIV-1–specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. We conclude that during persistent HIV-1 infection, IFN-Is suppress HIV-1 replication, but contribute to depletion and dysfunction of T cells.
Liang Cheng, Haisheng Yu, Guangming Li, Feng Li, Jianping Ma, Jingyun Li, Liqun Chi, Liguo Zhang, Lishan Su
Humoral immunity is critical for viral control, but the identity and mechanisms regulating human antiviral B cells are unclear. Here, we characterized human B cells expressing T-bet and analyzed their dynamics during viral infections. T-bet+ B cells demonstrated an activated phenotype, a distinct transcriptional profile, and were enriched for expression of the antiviral immunoglobulin isotypes IgG1 and IgG3. T-bet+ B cells expanded following yellow fever virus and vaccinia virus vaccinations and also during early acute HIV infection. Viremic HIV-infected individuals maintained a large T-bet+ B cell population during chronic infection that was associated with increased serum and cell-associated IgG1 and IgG3 expression. The HIV gp140–specific B cell response was dominated by T-bet–expressing memory B cells, and we observed a concomitant biasing of gp140-specific serum immunoglobulin to the IgG1 isotype. These findings suggest that T-bet induction promotes antiviral immunoglobulin isotype switching and development of a distinct T-bet+ B cell subset that is maintained by viremia and coordinates the HIV Env–specific humoral response.
James J. Knox, Marcus Buggert, Lela Kardava, Kelly E. Seaton, Michael A. Eller, David H. Canaday, Merlin L. Robb, Mario A. Ostrowski, Steven G. Deeks, Mark K. Slifka, Georgia D. Tomaras, Susan Moir, M. Anthony Moody, Michael R. Betts
HIV vaginal transmission accounts for the majority of newly acquired heterosexual infections. However, the mechanism by which HIV spreads from the initial site of viral entry at the mucosal surface of the female genital tract to establish a systemic infection of lymphoid and peripheral tissues is not known. Once the virus exits the mucosa it rapidly spreads to all tissues, leading to CD4+ T cell depletion and the establishment of a viral reservoir that cannot be eliminated with current treatments. Understanding the molecular and cellular requirements for viral dissemination from the genital tract is therefore of great importance, as it could reveal new strategies to lengthen the window of opportunity to target the virus at its entry site in the mucosa where it is the most vulnerable and thus prevent systemic infection. Using HIV vaginal infection of humanized mice as a model of heterosexual transmission, we demonstrate that blocking the ability of leukocytes to respond to chemoattractants prevented HIV from leaving the female genital tract. Furthermore, blocking lymphocyte egress from lymph nodes prevented viremia and infection of the gut. Leukocyte trafficking therefore plays a major role in viral dissemination, and targeting the chemoattractant molecules involved can prevent the establishment of a systemic infection.
Maud Deruaz, Thomas T. Murooka, Sophina Ji, Marc A. Gavin, Vladimir D. Vrbanac, Judy Lieberman, Andrew M. Tager, Thorsten R. Mempel, Andrew D. Luster
The conditioning regimen used as part of the Berlin patient’s hematopoietic cell transplant likely contributed to his eradication of HIV infection. We studied the impact of conditioning in simian-human immunodeficiency virus–infected (SHIV-infected) macaques suppressed by combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). The conditioning regimen resulted in a dramatic, but incomplete depletion of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and CD20+ B cells, increased T cell activation and exhaustion, and a significant loss of SHIV-specific Abs. The disrupted T cell homeostasis and markers of microbial translocation positively correlated with an increased viral rebound after cART interruption. Quantitative viral outgrowth and Tat/rev–induced limiting dilution assays showed that the size of the latent SHIV reservoir did not correlate with viral rebound. These findings identify perturbations of the immune system as a mechanism for the failure of autologous transplantation to eradicate HIV. Thus, transplantation strategies may be improved by incorporating immune modulators to prevent disrupted homeostasis, and gene therapy to protect transplanted cells.
Christopher W. Peterson, Clarisse Benne, Patricia Polacino, Jasbir Kaur, Cristina E. McAllister, Abdelali Filali-Mouhim, Willi Obenza, Tiffany A. Pecor, Meei-Li Huang, Audrey Baldessari, Robert D. Murnane, Ann E. Woolfrey, Keith R. Jerome, Shiu-Lok Hu, Nichole R. Klatt, Stephen DeRosa, Rafick P. Sékaly, Hans-Peter Kiem
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