Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-specific CD8+ T(EMRA) cells in early infection are linked to control of HIV-1 viremia and predict the subsequent viral load set point.
Northfield JW., Loo CP., Barbour JD., Spotts G., Hecht FM., Klenerman P., Nixon DF., Michaëlsson J.
CD8(+) T cells are believed to play an important role in the control of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. However, despite intensive efforts, it has not been possible to consistently link the overall magnitude of the CD8(+) T-cell response with control of HIV-1. Here, we have investigated the association of different CD8(+) memory T-cell subsets responding to HIV-1 in early infection with future control of HIV-1 viremia. Our results demonstrate that both a larger proportion and an absolute number of HIV-1-specific CD8(+) CCR7(-) CD45RA(+) effector memory T cells (T(EMRA) cells) were associated with a lower future viral load set point. In contrast, a larger absolute number of HIV-1-specific CD8(+) CCR7(-) CD45RA(-) effector memory T cells (T(EM)) was not related to the viral load set point. Overall, the findings suggest that CD8(+) T(EMRA) cells have superior antiviral activity and indicate that both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the CD8(+) T-cell response need to be considered when defining the characteristics of protective immunity to HIV-1.