American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine

Lymphocytic alveolitis is associated with the accumulation of functionally impaired HIV-specific T cells in the lung of antiretroviral therapy-naive subjects.

PMID 25536276


Lymphocytic alveolitis in HIV-1-infected individuals is associated with multiple pulmonary complications and a poor prognosis. Although lymphocytic alveolitis has been associated with viremia and an increased number of CD8(+) T cells in the lung, its exact cause is unknown. To determine if HIV-1-specific T cells are associated with lymphocytic alveolitis in HIV-1-infected individuals. Using blood and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells from normal control subjects and untreated HIV-1-infected individuals, we examined the frequency and functional capacity of HIV-1-specific T cells. We found that HIV-1-specific T cells were significantly elevated in the BAL compared with blood of HIV-1-infected individuals and strongly correlated with T-cell alveolitis. Expression of Ki67, a marker of in vivo proliferation, was significantly reduced on HIV-1-specific T cells in BAL compared with blood, suggesting a diminished proliferative capacity. In addition, HIV-1-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in BAL had higher expression of programmed death 1 (PD-1) and lower cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) expression than those in the blood. A strong correlation between PD-1, but not CTLA-4, and HIV-1-specific T-cell proliferation was seen, and blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway augmented HIV-1-specific T-cell proliferation, suggesting that the PD-1 pathway was the main cause of reduced proliferation in the lung. These findings suggest that alveolitis associated with HIV-1 infection is caused by the recruitment of HIV-1-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells to the lung. These antigen-specific T cells display an impaired proliferative capacity that is caused by increased expression of PD-1.