Send to

Choose Destination
Blood. 2012 Nov 22;120(22):4383-90. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-06-437566. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Memory CD4(+)CCR5(+) T cells are abundantly present in the gut of newborn infants to facilitate mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1.

Author information

Departments of Pediatric Hematology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Emma Children’s Hospital, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Despite potential clinical importance, target cells for mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 have not yet been identified. Cord blood-derived CD4(+) T cells are largely naive and do not express CCR5, the mandatory coreceptor for transmitted HIV-1 R5 strains in infants. In the present study, we demonstrate that in the human fetal and infant gut mucosa, there is already a large subset of mucosal memory CD4(+)CCR5(+) T cells with predominantly a Th1 and Th17 phenotype. Using next-generation sequencing of the TCRβ chain, clonally expanded T cells as a hallmark for memory development predominated in the gut mucosa (30%), whereas few were found in the lymph nodes (1%) and none in cord blood (0%). The gut mucosal fetal and infant CD4(+) T cells were highly susceptible to HIV-1 without any prestimulation; pol proviral DNA levels were similar to infected phytohemagglutinin-stimulated adult PBMCs. In conclusion, in the present study, we show that extensive adaptive immunity is present before birth and the gut mucosa is the preferential site for memory CD4(+) T cells. These CD4(+)CCR5(+) T cells in the infant mucosa provide a large pool of susceptible cells for ingested HIV-1 at birth and during breastfeeding, indicating a mucosal route of mother-to-child transmission that can be targeted in prevention strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center