BackgroundAged individuals respond poorly to vaccination and have a higher risk of contracting infections in comparison to younger individuals; whether age impacts on the composition and function of B cell subpopulations relevant for immune responses is still controversial. It is also not known whether increased age during HIV-1 infection further synergizes with the virus to alter B cell subpopulations. In view of the increased number of HIV-1 infected patients living to high age as a result of anti-retroviral treatment this is an important issue to clarify.ResultsIn this work we evaluated the distribution of B cell subpopulations in young and aged healthy individuals and HIV-1 infected patients, treated and naïve to treatment. B cell populations were characterized for the expression of inhibitory molecules (PD-1 and FcRL4) and activation markers (CD25 and CD69); the capacity of B cells to respond to activation signals through up-regulation of IL-6 expression was also evaluated. Increased frequencies of activated and tissue-like memory B cells occurring during HIV-1 infection are corrected by prolonged ART therapy. Our findings also reveal that, in spite of prolonged treatment, resting memory B cells in both young and aged HIV-1 infected patients are reduced in number, and all memory B cell subsets show a low level of expression of the activation markers CD25.ConclusionsThe results of our study show that resting memory B cells in ART-treated young and aged HIV-1 infected patients are reduced in number and memory B cell subsets exhibit low expression of the activation marker CD25. Aging per se in the HIV-1 infected population does not worsen impairments initiated by HIV-1 in the memory B cell populations of young individuals.
The chemokine receptor CCR5 is essential for HIV infection and is thus a potential target for vaccine development. However, because CCR5 is a host protein, generation of anti-CCR5 antibodies requires the breaking of immune tolerance and thus carries the risk of autoimmune responses. In this study, performed in mice, we compared 3 different immunogens representing surface domains of murine CCR5, 4 different adjuvants, and 13 different immunization protocols, with the goal of eliciting HIV-blocking activity without inducing autoimmune dysfunction. In all cases the CCR5 sequences were presented as fusions to the Flock House virus (FHV) capsid precursor protein. We found that systemic immunization and mucosal boosting elicited CCR5-specific antibodies and achieved consistent priming in Peyer's patches, where most cells showed a phenotype corresponding to activated B cells and secreted high levels of IgA, representing up to one-third of the total HIV-blocking activity. Histopathological analysis revealed mild to moderate chronic inflammation in some tissues but failed in reporting signs of autoimmune dysfunction associated with immunizations. Antisera against immunogens representing the N terminus and extracellular loops 1 and 2 (Nter1 and ECL1 and ECL2) of CCR5 were generated. All showed specific anti-HIV activity, which was stronger in the anti-ECL1 and -ECL2 sera than in the anti-Nter sera. ECL1 and ECL2 antisera induced nearly complete long-lasting CCR5 downregulation of the receptor, and especially, their IgG-depleted fractions prevented HIV infection in neutralization and transcytosis assays. In conclusion, the ECL1 and ECL2 domains could offer a promising path to achieve significant anti-HIV activity in vivo.
Upon its mucosal entry, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is internalized by Langerhans cells (LCs) in stratified epithelia and transferred locally to T cells. In such epithelia, LCs are in direct contact with peripheral neurons secreting calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). Although CGRP has immunomodulatory effects on LC functions, its potential influence on the interactions between LCs and HIV-1 is unknown. We show that CGRP acts via its receptor expressed by LCs and interferes with multiple steps of LC-mediated HIV-1 transmission. CGRP increases langerin expression, decreases selected integrins, and activates NF-?B, resulting in decreased HIV-1 intracellular content, limited formation of LC-T cell conjugates, and elevated secretion of the CCR5-binding chemokine CCL3/MIP-1?. These mechanisms cooperate to efficiently inhibit HIV-1 transfer from LCs to T cells and T cell infection. In vivo, HIV-1 infection decreases CGRP plasma levels in both vaginally SHIV-challenged macaques and HIV-1-infected individuals. CGRP plasma levels return to baseline after highly active antiretroviral therapy. Our results reveal a novel path by which a peripheral neuropeptide acts at the molecular and cellular levels to limit mucosal HIV-1 transmission and suggest that CGRP receptor agonists might be used therapeutically against HIV-1.
HIV infection persists despite antiretroviral treatment (ART) and is reignited as soon as therapies are suspended. This vicious cycle is fueled by the persistence of viral reservoirs that are invulnerable to standard ART protocols, and thus therapeutic agents able to target these reservoirs are needed. One such agent, auranofin, has recently been shown to decrease the memory T-cell reservoir in chronically SIVmac251-infected macaques. Moreover, auranofin could synergize with a fully suppressive ART protocol and induce a drug-free post-therapy containment of viremia.
Mucosal antibodies harboring various antiviral activities may best protect mucosal surfaces against early HIV-1 entry at mucosal sites and they should be ideally induced by prophylactic HIV-1 vaccines for optimal prevention of sexually transmitted HIV-1. A phase I, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in twenty-four healthy HIV-uninfected young women. The study objectives were to assess the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of virosomes harboring surface HIV-1 gp41-derived P1 lipidated peptides (MYM-V101). Participants received placebo or MYM-V101 vaccine at 10 ?g/dose or 50 ?g/dose intramuscularly at week 0 and 8, and intranasally at week 16 and 24. MYM-V101 was safe and well-tolerated at both doses administered by the intramuscular and intranasal routes, with the majority of subjects remaining free of local and general symptoms. P1-specific serum IgGs and IgAs were induced in all high dose recipients after the first injection. After the last vaccination, vaginal and rectal P1-specific IgGs could be detected in all high dose recipients. Approximately 63% and 43% of the low and high dose recipients were respectively tested positive for vaginal P1-IgAs, while 29% of the subjects from the high dose group tested positive for rectal IgAs. Serum samples had total specific IgG and IgA antibody concentrations ? 0.4 ?g/mL, while mucosal samples were usually below 0.01 ?g/mL. Vaginal secretions from MYM-V101 vaccinated subjects were inhibiting HIV-1 transcytosis but had no detectable neutralizing activity. P1-specific Th1 responses could not be detected on PBMC. This study demonstrates the excellent safety and tolerability of MYM-V101, eliciting systemic and mucosal antibodies in the majority of subjects. Vaccine-induced mucosal anti-gp41 antibodies toward conserved gp41 motifs were harboring HIV-1 transcytosis inhibition activity and may contribute to reduce sexually-transmitted HIV-1.
This work aims at identifying a set of humoral immunologic parameters that improve prediction of the activation process in HIV patients. Starting from the well-known impact of humoral immunity in HIV infection, there is still a lack of knowledge in defining the role of the modulation of functional activity and titers of serum antibodies from early stage of infection to the development of AIDS. We propose an integrated approach that combines humoral and clinical parameters in defining the host immunity, implementing algorithms associated with virus control. A number of humoral parameters were simultaneously evaluated in a whole range of serum samples from HIV-positive patients. This issue has been afforded accounting for estimation problems typically related to "feasibility" studies where small sample size in each group and large number of parameters are jointly estimated. We used nonparametric statistical procedures to identify biomarkers in our study which included 42 subjects stratified on five different stages of HIV infection, i.e., Elite Controllers (EC), Long Term Non Progressors (LTNP), HAART, AIDS and Acute Infection (AI). The main goal of the paper is to illustrate a novel profiling method for helping to design a further confirmatory study. A set of seventeen different HIV-specific blood humoral factors were analyzed in all subjects, i.e. IgG and IgA to gp120IIIB, to gp120Bal, to whole gp41, to P1 and T20 gp41 epitopes of the MPER-HR2 region, to QARILAV gp41 epitope of the HR1 region and to CCR5; neutralization activity against five different virus strains and ADCC were also evaluated. Patients were selected on the basis of CD4 cell counts, HIV/RNA and clinical status. The Classification and Regression Trees (CART) approach has been used to uncover specific patterns of humoral parameters in different stages of HIV disease. Virus neutralization of primary virus strains and antibodies to gp41 were required to classify patients, suggesting that clinical profiles strongly rely on functional activity against HIV.
To penetrate susceptible cells, HIV-1 sequentially interacts with two highly conserved cellular receptors, CD4 and a chemokine receptor like CCR5 or CXCR4. Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) directed against such receptors are currently under clinical investigation as potential preventive or therapeutic agents. We immunized Balb/c mice with molecular complexes of the native, trimeric HIV-1 envelope (Env) bound to a soluble form of the human CD4 receptor. Sera from immunized mice were found to contain gp120-CD4 complex-enhanced antibodies and showed broad-spectrum HIV-1-inhibitory activity. A proportion of MAbs derived from these mice preferentially recognized complex-enhanced epitopes. In particular, a CD4-specific MAb designated DB81 (IgG1?) was found to preferentially bind to a complex-enhanced epitope on the D2 domain of human CD4. MAb DB81 also recognized chimpanzee CD4, but not baboon or macaque CD4, which exhibit sequence divergence in the D2 domain. Functionally, MAb DB81 displayed broad HIV-1-inhibitory activity, but it did not exert suppressive effects on T-cell activation in vitro. The variable regions of the heavy and light chains of MAb DB81 were sequenced. Due to its broad-spectrum anti-HIV-1 activity and lack of immunosuppressive effects, a humanized derivative of MAb DB81 could provide a useful complement to current preventive or therapeutic strategies against HIV-1.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 is mainly transmitted mucosally during sexual intercourse. We therefore evaluated the protective efficacy of a vaccine active at mucosal sites. Macaca mulatta monkeys were immunized via both the intramuscular and intranasal routes with an HIV-1 vaccine made of gp41-subunit antigens grafted on virosomes, a safe delivery carrier approved in humans with self-adjuvant properties. Six months after 13 vaginal challenges with simian-HIV (SHIV)-SF162P3, four out of five vaccinated animals remained virus-negative, and the fifth was only transiently infected. None of the five animals seroconverted to p27gag-SIV. In contrast, all 6 placebo-vaccinated animals became infected and seroconverted. All protected animals showed gp41-specific vaginal IgAs with HIV-1 transcytosis-blocking properties and vaginal IgGs with neutralizing and/or antibody-dependent cellular-cytotoxicity activities. In contrast, plasma IgGs totally lacked virus-neutralizing activity. The protection observed challenges the paradigm whereby circulating antiviral antibodies are required for protection against HIV-1 infection and may serve in designing a human vaccine against HIV-1-AIDS.
Natural antibodies constitute a first-line of defence against pathogens; they may also play other roles in immune regulation and homeostasis, through their ability to bind host antigens, surface molecules and receptors. Natural anti-CCR5 antibodies can be decisive in preventing HIV infection in mucosal tissues and offer prompt and effective protection just at major sites of virus entry. Among natural anti-CCR5 antibodies, IgG and IgA to the ECL1 domain have been shown to block HIV effectively and durably without causing harm to the host. Their biological properties and their uncommon generation in subsets of HIV-infected and HIV-exposed individuals (so called ESN) will be introduced and discussed, with the aim at exploiting their potential in therapy and prevention.
To address an existing controversy concerning the presence of HIV-1-specific antibodies of the IgA isotype in the female genital tract secretions of highly-exposed but persistently seronegative (HEPSN) women, 41 samples of plasma and cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) fluid were distributed to six laboratories for their blinded evaluation using ELISA with 10 different HIV-1 antigens, chemiluminescence-enhanced Western blots (ECL-WB), and virus neutralization. HIV-specific IgG or IgA antibodies in plasma samples from HEPSN women were absent or detectable only at low levels. In CVL, 11/41 samples displayed low levels of reactivity in ELISA against certain antigens. However, only one sample was positive in two of five laboratories. All but one CVL sample yielded negative results when analyzed by ECL-WB. Viral neutralizing activity was either absent or inconsistently detected in plasma and CVL. Plasma and CVL samples from 26 HIV-1-infected women were used as positive controls. Irrespective of the assays and antigens used, the results generated in all laboratories displayed remarkable concordance in the detection of HIV-1-specific antibodies of the IgG isotype. In contrast, IgA antibodies to HIV-1 antigens were not detected with consistency, and where present, IgA antibodies were at markedly lower levels than IgG. Although HIV-neutralizing activity was detected in plasma of all HIV-1-infected women, only a few of their CVL samples displayed such activity. In conclusion, frequent HIV-1 sexual exposure does not stimulate uniformly detectable mucosal or systemic HIV-1-specific responses, as convincingly documented in the present blindly performed study using a broad variety of immunological assays. Although HIV-1-infection leads to vigorous IgG responses in plasma and CVL, it does not stimulate sustained IgA responses in either fluid.
Genital mucosae play a key role in protection from STD and HIV infection, due to their involvement in both horizontal and vertical disease transmission. High variability of published observations concerning IgA isolation and quantification underlies the strong requirement of specific methods able to maximize investigation on HIV-specific IgA.
The C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5) is a key player in HIV infection due to its major involvement in the infection process. Investigations into the role of the CCR5 coreceptor first focused on its binding to the virus and the molecular mechanisms leading to the entry and spread of HIV. The identification of naturally occurring CCR5 mutations has allowed scientists to address the CCR5 molecule as a promising target to prevent or limit HIV infection in vivo. Naturally occurring CCR5-specific antibodies have been found in exposed but uninfected people, and in a subset of HIV seropositive people who show long-term control of the infection. This suggests that natural autoimmunity to the CCR5 coreceptor exists and may play a role in HIV control. Such natural immunity has prompted strategies aimed at achieving anti-HIV humoral responses through CCR5 targeting, which will be described here.
The hypothesis that open conformers of HLA-C on target cells might directly exert an effect on their infectability by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been suggested previously. This was tested by exploiting the peculiar specificity of monoclonal antibody (mAb) L31 for HLA-C open conformers to show that normal levels of Env-driven fusion were restored in HLA-C transfectants of a major histocompatibility complex-deleted (fusion-incompetent) cell line. The physiological relevance of this finding is now confirmed in this report, where small interfering RNA (siRNA) technology was used to silence HLA-C expression in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) from 11 healthy donors. Infectability by HIV (strains IIIB and Bal and primary isolates) was significantly reduced (P=0.016) in silenced cells compared with cells that maintained HLA-C expression in 10 of the 11 PBL donors. Normal infectability was resumed, together with HLA-C expression, when the effect of siRNA interference waned after several days in culture. Additional confirmation of the HLA-C effect was obtained in several assays employing HLA-C-positive and -negative cell lines, a number of HIV strains and also pseudoviruses. In particular, viruses pseudotyped with env genes from HIV strains AC10 and QH0692.42 were assayed on siRNA-silenced lymphocytes from three healthy donors: the differences in infection with pseudoviruses were even higher than those observed in infections with normal viruses.
HIV-1 exposure causes several dramatic unbalances in the immune system homeostasis. Here, we will focus on the paradox whereby CD4 specific autoimmune responses, which are expected to contribute to the catastrophic loss of most part of the T helper lymphocyte subset in infected patients, may display the characteristics of an unconventional protective immunity in individuals naturally resistant to HIV-1 infection. Reference to differences in fine epitope mapping of these two oppositely polarized outcomes will be presented, with particular reference to partially or totally CD4-gp120 complex-specific antibodies. The fine tuning of the anti-self immune response to the HIV-1 receptor may determine whether viral exposure will result in infection or, alternatively, protective immunity.Along this line, an efficacious anti-HIV strategy can rely on the active (i.e., through immunization) or passive targeting of cryptic epitopes of the CD4-gp120 complex, including those harboured within the CD4 molecule. Such epitopes are expected to be safe from genetic drift and thus allow for broad spectrum of efficacy. Moreover, since these epitopes are not routinely exposed in uninfected individuals, they are expected to become targets of neutralizing antibodies or other specifically designed molecules only after viral exposure, with a predictable low impact in terms of potentially harmful anti-CD4 self-reactivity.The experimentum naturae of naturally resistant individuals indicates a strategy to design innovative strategies to neutralize HIV-1 by acting on the sharp edge between harmful and protective self-reactivity.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are among the first cells to encounter HIV after mucosal exposure and can bind virus via C-type lectin receptors (CLRs). Here, we characterized the distribution of various DC subtypes and the density of the CLRs, DC-SIGN, langerin, and mannose receptor in the ectocervix of HIV-seronegative women with low- and high-risk behavior for acquiring HIV.
The constant heavy chain (CH1) domain affects antibody affinity and fine specificity, challenging the paradigm that only variable regions contribute to antigen binding. To investigate the role of the CH1 domain, we constructed IgA2 from the broadly neutralizing anti-HIV-1 2F5 IgG1, and compared 2F5 IgA2 and IgG binding affinity and functional activities. We found that 2F5 IgA2 bound to the gp41 membrane proximal external region with higher affinity than IgG1. Functionally, compared with IgG1, 2F5 IgA2 more efficiently blocked HIV-1 transcytosis across epithelial cells and CD4(+) cell infection by R5 HIV-1. The 2F5 IgG1 and IgA2 acted synergistically to fully block HIV-1 transfer from Langerhans to autologous CD4(+) T cells and to inhibit CD4(+) T-cell infection. Epitope mapping performed by screening a random peptide library and in silico docking modeling suggested that along with the 2F5 IgG canonical ELDKWA epitope on gp41, the IgG1 recognized an additional 3D-conformational epitope on the gp41 C-helix. In contrast, the IgA2 epitope included a unique conformational motif on the gp41 N-helix. Overall, the CH1 region of 2F5 contributes to shape its epitope specificity, antibody affinity, and functional activities. In the context of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV-1/AIDS, raising a mucosal IgA-based vaccine response should complement an IgG-based vaccine response in blocking HIV-1 transmission.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) inhibit HIV-1 expression by either modulating host innate immunity or by directly interfering with viral mRNAs. We evaluated the expression of 377 miRNAs in CD4(+) T cells from HIV-1 élite long-term nonprogressors (éLTNPs), naive patients, and multiply exposed uninfected (MEU) patients, and we observed that the éLTNP patients clustered with naive patients, whereas all MEU subjects grouped together. The discriminatory power of miRNAs showed that 21 miRNAs significantly differentiated éLTNP from MEU patients and 23 miRNAs distinguished naive from MEU patients, whereas only 1 miRNA (miR-155) discriminated éLTNP from naive patients. We proposed that miRNA expression may discriminate between HIV-1-infected and -exposed but negative patients. Analysis of miRNAs expression after exposure of healthy CD4(+) T cells to gp120 in vitro confirmed our hypothesis that a miRNA profile could be the result not only of a productive infection but also of the exposure to HIV-1 products that leave a signature in immune cells. The comparison of normalized Dicer and Drosha expression in ex vivo and in vitro condition revealed that these enzymes did not affect the change of miRNA profiles, supporting the existence of a Dicer-independent biogenesis pathway.
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