T Cell Activation but Not Polyfunctionality after Primary HIV Infection Predicts Control of Viral Load and Length of the Time without Therapy

Andrea Cossarizza, Linda Bertoncelli, Elisa Nemes, Enrico Lugli, Marcello Pinti, Milena Nasi, Sara De Biasi, Lara Gibellini, Jonas P. Montagna, Marco Vecchia, Lisa Manzini, Marianna Meschiari, Vanni Borghi, Giovanni Guaraldi, Cristina Mussini, Clive M. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Immune changes occurring after primary HIV infection (PHI) have a pivotal relevance. Our objective was to characterize the polyfunctionality of immune response triggered by PHI, and to characterize immune activation and regulatory T cells, correlating such features to disease progression. Patients and Methods: We followed 11 patients experiencing PHI for 4 years. By polychromatic flow cytometry, we studied every month, for the first 6 months, T lymphocyte polyfunctionality after cell stimulation with peptides derived from HIV-1 gag and nef. Tregs were identified by flow cytometry, and T cell activation studied by CD38 and HLA-DR expression. Results: An increase of anti-gag and anti-nef CD8+ specific T cells was observed 3 months after PHI; however, truly polyfunctional T cells, also able to produce IL-2, were never found. No gross changes in Tregs were present. T lymphocyte activation was maximal 1 and 2 months after PHI, and significantly decreased in the following period. The level of activation two months after PHI was strictly correlated to the plasma viral load 1 year after infection, and significantly influenced the length of period without therapy. Indeed, 80% of patients with less than the median value of activated CD8+ (15.5%) or CD4+ (0.9%) T cells remained free of therapy for >46 months, while all patients over the median value had to start treatment within 26 months. Conclusions: T cell activation after PHI, more than T cell polyfunctionality or Tregs, is a predictive marker for the control of viral load and for the time required to start treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere50728
JournalPLoS One
Volume7
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 7 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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    Cossarizza, A., Bertoncelli, L., Nemes, E., Lugli, E., Pinti, M., Nasi, M., De Biasi, S., Gibellini, L., Montagna, J. P., Vecchia, M., Manzini, L., Meschiari, M., Borghi, V., Guaraldi, G., Mussini, C., & Gray, C. M. (2012). T Cell Activation but Not Polyfunctionality after Primary HIV Infection Predicts Control of Viral Load and Length of the Time without Therapy. PLoS One, 7(12), [e50728]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0050728