IL-7-dependent STAT-5 activation and CD8+ T cell proliferation are impaired in HIV infection

Agatha Vranjkovic, Angela M Crawley, Andrea Patey, Jonathan B Angel
Journal of Leukocyte Biology 2011, 89 (4): 499-506
This study tests the hypothesis that IL-7 signaling and activity of CD8(+) T cells are impaired in HIV infection. IL-7 is necessary for optimal CTL activity and T cell survival and proliferation. Defects in IL-7R signaling may contribute to impaired activity of IL-7 observed in progressive HIV disease. A decreased proportion of CD8(+) T cells expressing the IL-7Rα chain (CD127) in progressive HIV disease would be expected to affect IL-7 activity. Alternatively, disease-associated defects of remaining CD8(+)CD127(+) T cells may influence IL-7 responsiveness. Therefore, the IL-7 responsiveness of CD8(+)CD127(+) T cells from HIV(-) and untreated or treated HIV(+) individuals was investigated. Blood was collected from HIV(-) and untreated or effectively treated HIV(+) (<50 viral copies/ml for >1 year) individuals, and CD8(+)CD127(+) T cells were isolated and cultured with IL-7. Indicators of IL-7 signaling (P-STAT5) and activity (Bcl-2 and proliferation) were evaluated by flow cytometry. Isolated CD8(+)CD127(+) T cells from untreated HIV(+) individuals expressed significantly less P-STAT5 in response to IL-7 compared with CD8(+)CD127(+) T cells from HIV(-) individuals. In effectively treated HIV(+) individuals, CD8(+)CD127(+) T cells also expressed significantly lower levels of P-STAT5 compared with HIV(-) individuals. IL-7-dependent proliferation of CD8(+)CD127(+) T cells from untreated HIV(+) individuals was similarly impaired. In contrast, IL-7-induced Bcl-2 expression was not impaired in CD8(+)CD127(+) T cells from HIV(+) individuals. These data demonstrate that IL-7/IL-7R dysfunction in HIV infection may contribute to IL-7-specific signaling defects. Decreased, IL-7-dependent activation of STAT5 and impaired proliferation may negatively impact the maintenance of CD8(+) T cell responsiveness in HIV infection.

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