• CD25+ FoxP3+ Memory CD4 T Cells Are Frequent Targets of HIV Infection In Vivo.

      Chachage, Mkunde; Pollakis, Georgios; Kuffour, Edmund Osei; Haase, Kerstin; Bauer, Asli; Nadai, Yuka; Podola, Lilli; Clowes, Petra; Schiemann, Matthias; Henkel, Lynette; et al. (2016-10-15)
      Interleukin 2 (IL-2) signaling through the IL-2 receptor alpha chain (CD25) facilitates HIV replication in vitro and facilitates homeostatic proliferation of CD25(+) FoxP3(+) CD4(+) T cells. CD25(+) FoxP3(+) CD4(+) T cells may therefore constitute a suitable subset for HIV infection and plasma virion production. CD25(+) FoxP3(+) CD4(+) T cell frequencies, absolute numbers, and the expression of CCR5 and cell cycle marker Ki67 were studied in peripheral blood from HIV(+) and HIV(-) study volunteers. Different memory CD4(+) T cell subsets were then sorted for quantification of cell-associated HIV DNA and phylogenetic analyses of the highly variable EnvV1V3 region in comparison to plasma-derived virus sequences. In HIV(+) subjects, 51% (median) of CD25(+) FoxP3(+) CD4(+) T cells expressed the HIV coreceptor CCR5. Very high frequencies of Ki67(+) cells were detected in CD25(+) FoxP3(+) memory CD4(+) T cells (median, 27.6%) in comparison to CD25(-) FoxP3(-) memory CD4(+) T cells (median, 4.1%; P < 0.0001). HIV DNA content was 15-fold higher in CD25(+) FoxP3(+) memory CD4(+) T cells than in CD25(-) FoxP3(-) T cells (P = 0.003). EnvV1V3 sequences derived from CD25(+) FoxP3(+) memory CD4(+) T cells did not preferentially cluster with plasma-derived sequences. Quasi-identical cell-plasma sequence pairs were rare, and their proportion decreased with the estimated HIV infection duration. These data suggest that specific cellular characteristics of CD25(+) FoxP3(+) memory CD4(+) T cells might facilitate efficient HIV infection in vivo and passage of HIV DNA to cell progeny in the absence of active viral replication. The contribution of this cell population to plasma virion production remains unclear.