HIV-1 impairs in vitro priming of naïve T cells and gives rise to contact-dependent suppressor T cells

Karlhans F. Che, Rachel L. Sabado, Esaki M. Shankar, Veronica Tjomsland, Davorka Messmer, Nina Bhardwaj, Jeffrey D. Lifson, Marie Larsson

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37 Scopus citations


Priming of T cells in lymphoid tissues of HIV-infected individuals occurs in the presence of HIV-1. DC in this milieu activate T cells and disseminate HIV-1 to newly activated T cells, the outcome of which may have serious implications in the development of optimal antiviral responses. We investigated the effects of HIV-1 on DC-naïve T-cell interactions using an allogeneic in vitro system. Our data demonstrate a dramatic decrease in the primary expansion of naïve T cells when cultured with HIV-1-exposed DC. CD4+ and CD8+ T cells showed enhanced expression of PD-1 and TRAIL, whereas CTLA-4 expression was observed on CD4+ T cells. It is worth noting that T cells primed in the presence of HIV-1 suppressed priming of other naïve T cells in a contact-dependent manner. We identified PD-1, CTLA-4, and TRAIL pathways as responsible for this suppresion, as blocking these negative molecules restored T-cell proliferation to a higher degree. In conclusion, the presence of HIV-1 during DC priming produced cells with inhibitory effects on T-cell activation and proliferation, i.e. suppressor T cells, a mechanismthat could contribute to the enhancement of HIV-1 pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2248-2258
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • DC
  • HIV-1
  • Immune responses
  • Suppressor T-cells


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