Correlates of T-cell-mediated viral control and phenotype of CD8(+) T cells in HIV-2, a naturally contained human retroviral infection.
de Silva TI., Peng Y., Leligdowicz A., Zaidi I., Li L., Griffin H., Blais ME., Vincent T., Saraiva M., Yindom LM., van Tienen C., Easterbrook P., Jaye A., Whittle H., Dong T., Rowland-Jones SL.
While a significant proportion of HIV-2-infected individuals are asymptomatic and maintain undetectable viral loads (controllers), 15% to 20% progress to AIDS and are predicted by detectable viremia. Identifying immune correlates that distinguish these 2 groups should provide insights into how a potentially pathogenic retrovirus can be naturally controlled. We performed a detailed study of HIV-2-specific cellular responses in a unique community cohort in Guinea-Bissau followed for over 2 decades. T-cell responses were compared between controllers (n = 33) and viremic subjects (n = 27) using overlapping peptides, major histocompatibility complex class I tetramers, and multiparameter flow cytometry. HIV-2 viral control was significantly associated with a high-magnitude, polyfunctional Gag-specific CD8(+) T-cell response but not with greater perforin upregulation. This potentially protective HIV-2-specific response is surprisingly narrow. HIV-2 Gag-specific CD8(+) T cells are at an earlier stage of differentiation than cytomegalovirus-specific CD8(+) T-cells, do not contain high levels of cytolytic markers, and exhibit low levels of activation and proliferation, representing distinct properties from CD8(+) T cells associated with HIV-1 control. These data reveal the potential T-cell correlates of HIV-2 control and the detailed phenotype of virus-specific CD8(+) T cells in a naturally contained retroviral infection.