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Medicine

Impaired Phenotype and Function of T Follicular Helper Cells in HIV-1-Infected Children Receiving ART.


PMID 26166114

Abstract

T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are important components in development of specific humoral immune responses; whether the number and biology of Tfh cells is impaired in HIV-1-infected children is not yet studied.The frequency, phenotype, and function of Tfh cells and B cells were determined in blood of HIV-1-infected children receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) and age-matched controls. Flow cytometry was used to characterize the frequency of Tfh cells and B cell subsets. Cytokine expression was measured after in vitro activation of Tfh cells.A reduced frequency of memory Tfh cells (P < 0.001) was identified in HIV-1-infected children and, on these cells, a reduced expression of programmed death-1 (PD-1) and inducible T cell costimulator (ICOS) (P < 0.001 and P < 0.01). Upon activation, the capacity of Tfh cells to express IL-4, an important cytokine for B cell function, was impaired in HIV-1-infected children.B cell subpopulations in HIV-1-infected children displayed significant differences from the control group: the frequency of resting memory (RM) B cells was reduced (P < 0.01) whereas the frequency of exhausted memory B cells increased (P < 0.001). Interestingly, the decline of RM cells correlated with the reduction of memory Tfh cells (P = 0.02).Our study shows that function and phenotype of Tfh cells, pivotal cells for establishment of adaptive B cell responses, are impaired during HIV-1 infection in children. A consistent reduction of memory Tfh cells is associated with declined frequencies of RM B cells, creating a novel link between dysfunctional features of these cell types, major players in establishment of humoral immunity.