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PLoS Pathog. 2012;8(8):e1002840. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002840. Epub 2012 Aug 16.

CD160 and PD-1 co-expression on HIV-specific CD8 T cells defines a subset with advanced dysfunction.

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Caprion/ImmuneCarta Services, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Chronic viral infections lead to persistent CD8 T cell activation and functional exhaustion. Expression of programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) has been associated to CD8 T cell dysfunction in HIV infection. Herein we report that another negative regulator of T cell activation, CD160, was also upregulated on HIV-specific CD8 T lymphocytes mostly during the chronic phase of infection. CD8 T cells that expressed CD160 or PD-1 were still functional whereas co-expression of CD160 and PD-1 on CD8 T cells defined a novel subset with all the characteristics of functionally exhausted T cells. Blocking the interaction of CD160 with HVEM, its natural ligand, increased HIV-specific CD8 T cell proliferation and cytokine production. Transcriptional profiling showed that CD160(-)PD-1(+)CD8 T cells encompassed a subset of CD8(+) T cells with activated transcriptional programs, while CD160(+)PD-1(+) T cells encompassed primarily CD8(+) T cells with an exhausted phenotype. The transcriptional profile of CD160(+)PD-1(+) T cells showed the downregulation of the NFκB transcriptional node and the upregulation of several inhibitors of T cell survival and function. Overall, we show that CD160 and PD-1 expressing subsets allow differentiating between activated and exhausted CD8 T cells further reinforcing the notion that restoration of function will require multipronged approaches that target several negative regulators.

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