Background: Reduced CD4 T lymphocytes counts can be observed in HIV infection and in patients undergoing autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (ASCT). Nevertheless, whereas opportunistic infections (OI) are frequent in HIV-infected individuals with low cell counts, OI are uncommon in ASCT patients. Methodology/Principal Findings: To verify whether this observation could be secondary to intrinsic HIV-correlated T cell defects, we performed in-depth immunologic analyses in 10 patients with comparable CD4 counts in whom lymphopenia was secondary either to HIV-infection or ASCT-associated immunosuppressive therapy and compared them to age-matched healthy subjects. Results showed the presence of profound alterations in CD4+ T lymphocytes in both groups of patients with respect to healthy controls. Thus, a low percentage of CCR7+ CD4+ T cells and a compensative expansion of CD45RA-CCR7- CD4+ T cells, a reduced IL-2/IFN-γ cytokine production and impaired recall antigens-specific proliferative responses were detected both in ASCT and HIV patients. In stark contrast, profound differences were detected in CD8+ T-cells between the two groups of patients. Thus, mature CD8+ T cell prevailed in ASCT patients in whom significantly lower CD45RA-CCR7- cells, higher CD45RA+CCR7- CD8+ cells, and an expansion of CCR7+CD8+ cells was detected; this resulted in higher IFN-γ +/TNFα production and granzyme CD8+ expression. The presence of strong CD8 T cells mediated immune responses justifies the more favorable clinical outcome of ASCT compared to HIV patients. Conclusion/Significance: These results indicate that CD8 T cells maturation and functions can be observed even in the face of a profound impairment of CD4+ T lymphocytes in ASCT but not in HIV patients. Primary HIV-associated CD8 defects or an imprinting by an intact CD4 T cell system in ASCT could justify these results.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)