Distinct kinetics of Gag-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses during acute HIV-1 infection.
Riou C., Ganusov VV., Campion S., Mlotshwa M., Liu MKP., Whale VE., Goonetilleke N., Borrow P., Ferrari G., Betts MR., Haynes BF., McMichael AJ., Gray CM.
HIV infection is characterized by a gradual deterioration of immune function, mainly in the CD4 compartment. To better understand the dynamics of HIV-specific T cells, we analyzed the kinetics and polyfunctional profiles of Gag-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell responses in 12 subtype C-infected individuals with different disease-progression profiles, ranging from acute to chronic HIV infection. The frequencies of Gag-responsive CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells showed distinct temporal kinetics. The peak frequency of Gag-responsive IFN-γ(+)CD4(+) T cells was observed at a median of 28 d (interquartile range: 21-81 d) post-Fiebig I/II staging, whereas Gag-specific IFN-γ(+)CD8(+) T cell responses peaked at a median of 253 d (interquartile range: 136-401 d) and showed a significant biphasic expansion. The proportion of TNF-α-expressing cells within the IFN-γ(+)CD4(+) T cell population increased (p = 0.001) over time, whereas TNF-α-expressing cells within IFN-γ(+)CD8(+) T cells declined (p = 0.005). Both Gag-responsive CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells showed decreased Ki67 expression within the first 120 d post-Fiebig I/II staging. Prior to the disappearance of Gag-responsive Ki67(+)CD4(+) T cells, these cells positively correlated (p = 0.00038) with viremia, indicating that early Gag-responsive CD4 events are shaped by viral burden. No such associations were observed in the Gag-specific CD8(+) T cell compartment. Overall, these observations indicated that circulating Gag-responsive CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell frequencies and functions are not synchronous, and properties change rapidly at different tempos during early HIV infection.