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J Clin Invest. 2012 Sep;122(9):3271-80. doi: 10.1172/JCI64314. Epub 2012 Aug 27.

Expansion of HIV-specific T follicular helper cells in chronic HIV infection.

Author information

1
Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

HIV targets CD4 T cells, which are required for the induction of high-affinity antibody responses and the formation of long-lived B cell memory. The depletion of antigen-specific CD4 T cells during HIV infection is therefore believed to impede the development of protective B cell immunity. Although several different HIV-related B cell dysfunctions have been described, the role of CD4 T follicular helper (TFH) cells in HIV infection remains unknown. Here, we assessed HIV-specific TFH responses in the lymph nodes of treatment-naive and antiretroviral-treated HIV-infected individuals. Strikingly, both the bulk TFH and HIV-specific TFH cell populations were significantly expanded in chronic HIV infection and were highly associated with viremia. In particular, GAG-specific TFH cells were detected at significantly higher levels in the lymph nodes compared with those of GP120-specific TFH cells and showed preferential secretion of the helper cytokine IL-21. In addition, TFH cell expansion was associated with an increase of germinal center B cells and plasma cells as well as IgG1 hypersecretion. Thus, our study suggests that high levels of HIV viremia drive the expansion of TFH cells, which in turn leads to perturbations of B cell differentiation, resulting in dysregulated antibody production.

PMID:
22922259
PMCID:
PMC3428098
DOI:
10.1172/JCI64314
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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