There is growing recognition that HIV-1 infection leads to an activation of the immune system that includes perturbations of cytokine expression, redistribution of lymphocyte subpopulations, cell dysfunction, and cell death. Here, we explored the relationships between HIV-1 infection and immune activation in chronically HIV-1-infected human lymph nodes. In addition to CD4 T-cell depletion, we found increased effector T-cell frequencies associated with profound up-regulation of an activation marker CD38 in naive, central memory, and effector CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Likewise, Fas death receptor (CD95) was more frequently detectable on T cells from HIV-1 nodes. Dendritic cell (DC) depletion was dramatic, with plasmacytoid DCs (PDCs) 40-fold and myeloid DCs (MDCs) 20-fold less frequent in HIV+ nodes than in control nodes. Cytokine dysregulation was evident, with IL-2 and IL-15 as much as 2 or 3 logs greater in infected nodes than in control nodes. Thus, activated effector cells are inappropriately attracted and/or retained in lymphoid tissue in chronic HIV-1 infection. High-level cytokine expression in turn activates and retains more cells at these sites, leading to lymphadenopathy and massive bystander activation that characterizes HIV-1 infection. Strategies targeting these activation pathways may lead to new therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology