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Background: Despite a successful antiretroviral therapy (ART), adolescents living with perinatally acquired HIV (PHIV) experience signs of B-cell hyperactivation with expansion of 'namely' atypical B-cell phenotypes, including double negative (CD27-IgD-) and termed age associated (ABCs) B-cells (T-bet+CD11c+), which may result in reduced cell functionality, including loss of vaccine-induced immunological memory and higher risk of developing B-cells associated tumors. In this context, perinatally HIV infected children (PHIV) deserve particular attention, given their life-long exposure to chronic immune activation. Methods: We studied 40 PHIV who started treatment by the 2nd year of life and maintained virological suppression for 13.5 years, with 5/40 patients experiencing transient elevation of the HIV-1 load in the plasma (Spike). We applied a multi-disciplinary approach including immunological B and T cell phenotype, plasma proteomics analysis, and serum level of anti-measles antibodies as functional correlates of vaccine-induced immunity. Results: Phenotypic signs of B cell hyperactivation were elevated in subjects starting ART later (%DN T-bet+CD11c+ p=0.03; %AM T-bet+CD11c+ p=0.02) and were associated with detectable cell-associated HIV-1 RNA (%AM T-bet+CD11c+ p=0.0003) and transient elevation of the plasma viral load (spike). Furthermore, B-cell hyperactivation appeared to be present in individuals with higher frequency of exhausted T-cells, in particular: %CD4 TIGIT+ were associated with %DN (p=0.008), %DN T-bet+CD11c+ (p=0.0002) and %AM T-bet+CD11c+ (p=0.002) and %CD4 PD-1 were associated with %DN (p=0.048), %DN T-bet+CD11c+ (p=0.039) and %AM T-bet+CD11c+ (p=0.006). The proteomic analysis revealed that subjects with expansion of these atypical B-cells and exhausted T-cells had enrichment of proteins involved in immune inflammation and complement activation pathways. Furthermore, we observed that higher levels of ABCs were associated a reduced capacity to maintain vaccine-induced antibody immunity against measles (%B-cells CD19+CD10- T-bet+, p=0.035). Conclusion: We identified that the levels of hyperactivated B cell subsets were strongly affected by time of ART start and associated with clinical, viral, cellular and plasma soluble markers. Furthermore, the expansion of ABCs also had a direct impact on the capacity to develop antibodies response following routine vaccination.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Immunol

Publication Date





B-cell hyperactivation, CD11c, T-bet, caHIV-1 RNA, exhausted T-cells, late ART, perinatal HIV/AIDS, proteomic profiling immune activation, Adolescent, HIV Infections, HIV Seropositivity, HIV-1, Humans, Proteomics, Vaccines, Viral Load