Decreases in IL-7 levels during antiretroviral treatment of HIV infection suggest a primary mechanism of receptor-mediated clearance

Jessica N Hodge, Sharat Srinivasula, Zonghui Hu, Sarah W Read, Brian O Porter, Insook Kim, Joann M Mican, Chang Paik, Paula Degrange, Michele Di Mascio, Irini Sereti
Blood 2011 September 22, 118 (12): 3244-53
IL-7 is essential for T-cell homeostasis. Elevated serum IL-7 levels in lymphopenic states, including HIV infection, are thought to be due to increased production by homeostatic feedback, decreased receptor-mediated clearance, or both. The goal of this study was to understand how immune reconstitution through antiretroviral therapy (ART) in HIV(+) patients affects IL-7 serum levels, expression of the IL-7 receptor (CD127), and T-cell cycling. Immunophenotypic analysis of T cells from 29 HIV(-) controls and 43 untreated HIV(+) patients (30 of whom were followed longitudinally for ≤ 24 months on ART) was performed. Restoration of both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells was driven by increases in CD127(+) naive and central memory T cells. CD4(+) T-cell subsets were not fully restored after 2 years of ART, whereas serum IL-7 levels normalized by 1 year of ART. Mathematical modeling indicated that changes in serum IL-7 levels could be accounted for by changes in the receptor concentration. These data suggest that T-cell restoration after ART in HIV infection is driven predominantly by CD127(+) cells and that decreases of serum IL-7 can be largely explained by improved CD127-mediated clearance.

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