Downregulation of CD94/NKG2A inhibitory receptors on CD8+ T cells in HIV infection is more pronounced in subjects with detected viral load than in their aviraemic counterparts

Mustapha Zeddou, Souad Rahmouni, Arnaud Vandamme, Nathalie Jacobs, Frédéric Frippiat, Philippe Leonard, Nicole Schaaf-Lafontaine, Dolores Vaira, Jacques Boniver, Michel Moutschen
Retrovirology 2007, 4: 72
The CD94/NKG2A heterodimer is a natural killer receptor (NKR), which inhibits cell-mediated cytotoxicity upon interaction with MHC class I gene products. It is expressed by NK cells and by a small fraction of activated CD8+ T lymphocytes. Abnormal upregulation of the CD94/NKG2A inhibitory NKR on cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) could be responsible for a failure of immunosurveillance in cancer or HIV infection. In this study, CD94/NKG2A receptor expression on CD8+ T lymphocytes and NK cells was assessed in 46 HIV-1-infected patients (24 viraemic, 22 aviraemic) and 10 healthy volunteers. The percentage of CD8+ T lymphocytes expressing the CD94/NKG2A inhibitory heterodimer was very significantly decreased in HIV-1-infected patients in comparison with non-infected controls. Within the HIV infected patients, the proportion of CD8+ T lymphocytes and NK cells expressing CD94/NKG2A was higher in subjects with undetectable viral loads in comparison with their viraemic counterparts. No significant difference was detected in the proportion of CD8+ T lymphocytes expressing the activatory CD94/NKG2C heterodimer between the HIV-1 infected patients and the healthy donors, nor between the vireamic and avireamic HIV-1 infected patients. In conclusion, chronic stimulation with HIV antigens in viraemic patients leads to a decreased rather than increased CD94/NKG2A expression on CD8+ T lymphocytes and NK cells.

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