Comprehensive analysis of HIV Gag-specific IFN-gamma response in HIV-1- and HIV-2-infected asymptomatic patients from a clinical cohort in The Gambia.
Ondondo BO., Rowland-Jones SL., Dorrell L., Peterson K., Cotten M., Whittle H., Jaye A.
Majority of HIV-2-infected individuals meet the criteria of long-term non-progressors. This has been linked to superior qualitative HIV-2-specific cellular immune responses that correlate with viral control. However, it is unknown whether this is due to frequent targeting of immunodominant Gag epitopes in HIV-2 than HIV-1 infection. We describe a comprehensive comparison of the magnitude, breadth and frequency of Gag responses and the degree of cross-recognition of frequently targeted, immunodominant Gag peptides in a cross-sectional study of asymptomatic HIV-1- and HIV-2-infected individuals. Fresh PBMC from 20 HIV-1- and 20 HIV-2-infected patients with similar CD4(+) T-cell counts (p=0.36) were stimulated with pools of HIV-1 and/or HIV-2 Gag peptides in an IFN-gamma ELISPOT assay. We found no difference in the cumulative magnitude of IFN-gamma responses (p=0.75) despite significantly lower plasma viral loads in HIV-2-infected people (p<0.0001). However, Gag211-290 was targeted with significantly higher magnitude in HIV-2-infected subjects (p=0.03) although this did not correlate with viral control. There was no difference in frequently targeted Gag peptides, the breadth, immunodominance or cross-recognition of Gag peptide pools between the two infections. This suggests that other factors may control viral replication in HIV-2 infection.