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J Immunol. 2010 Feb 1;184(3):1604-16. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0903058. Epub 2009 Dec 30.

Peripheral blood CCR4+CCR6+ and CXCR3+CCR6+CD4+ T cells are highly permissive to HIV-1 infection.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


There is limited knowledge on the identity of primary CD4(+) T cell subsets selectively targeted by HIV-1 in vivo. In this study, we established a link between HIV permissiveness, phenotype/homing potential, and lineage commitment in primary CD4(+) T cells. CCR4(+)CCR6(+), CCR4(+)CCR6(-), CXCR3(+)CCR6(+), and CXCR3(+)CCR6(-) T cells expressed cytokines and transcription factors specific for Th17, Th2, Th1Th17, and Th1 lineages, respectively. CCR4(+)CCR6(+) and CXCR3(+)CCR6(+) T cells expressed the HIV coreceptors CCR5 and CXCR4 and were permissive to R5 and X4 HIV replication. CCR4(+)CCR6(-) T cells expressed CXCR4 but not CCR5 and were permissive to X4 HIV only. CXCR3(+)CCR6(-) T cells expressed CCR5 and CXCR4 but were relatively resistant to R5 and X4 HIV in vitro. Total CCR6(+) T cells compared with CCR6(-) T cells harbored higher levels of integrated HIV DNA in treatment-naive HIV-infected subjects. The frequency of total CCR6(+) T cells and those of CCR4(+)CCR6(+) and CXCR3(+)CCR6(+) T cells were diminished in chronically infected HIV-positive subjects, despite viral-suppressive therapy. A high-throughput analysis of cytokine profiles identified CXCR3(+)CCR6(+) T cells as a major source of TNF-alpha and CCL20 and demonstrated a decreased TNF-alpha/IL-10 ratio in CXCR3(+)CCR6(-) T cells. Finally, CCR4(+)CCR6(+) and CXCR3(+)CCR6(+) T cells exhibited gut- and lymph node-homing potential. Thus, we identified CCR4(+)CCR6(+) and CXCR3(+)CCR6(+) T cells as highly permissive to HIV replication, with potential to infiltrate and recruit more CCR6(+) T cells into anatomic sites of viral replication. It is necessary that new therapeutic strategies against HIV interfere with viral replication/persistence in discrete CCR6(+) T cell subsets.

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