Mapping the extent of heterogeneity of human CCR5+ CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood and lymph nodes

John Zaunders, C Mee Ling Munier, Helen M McGuire, Hannah Law, Annett Howe, Yin Xu, Barbara Fazekas de St Groth, Peter Schofield, Daniel Christ, Brad Milner, Solange Obeid, Wayne B Dyer, Nitin K Saksena, Anthony D Kelleher
AIDS 2020 May 1, 34 (6): 833-848

BACKGROUND: CD4 T cells that express the chemokine receptor, CCR5, are the most important target of HIV-1 infection, but their functions, phenotypes and anatomical locations are poorly understood. We aimed to use multiparameter flow cytometry to better define the full breadth of these cells.

METHODS: High-parameter fluorescence flow and mass cytometry were optimized to analyse subsets of CCR5 memory CD4 T cells, including CD25CD127 Tregs, CXCR3CCR6- Th1-like, CCR6CD161CXCR3- Th17-like, integrins α4ß7 gut-homing, CCR4 skin-homing, CD62L lymph node-homing, CD38HLA-DR activated cells, and CD27-CD28- cytotoxic T lymphocytes, in a total of 22 samples of peripheral blood, ultrasound-guided fine needle biopsies of lymph nodes and excised tonsils. CCR5 antigen-specific CD4 T cells were studied using the OX40 flow-based assay.

RESULTS: 10-20% of CCR5 memory CD4 T cells were Tregs, 10-30% were gut-homing, 10-30% were skin-homing, 20-40% were lymph node-homing, 20-50% were Th1-like and 20-40% were Th17-like cells. Up to 30% were cytotoxic T lymphocytes in CMV-seropositive donors, including cells that were either CCR5Granzyme K or CCR5Granzyme B. When all possible phenotypes were exhaustively analysed, more than 150 different functional and trafficking subsets of CCR5 CD4 T cells were seen. Moreover, a small population of resident CD69Granzyme KCCR5 CD4 T cells was found in lymphoid tissues. CMV- and Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific CD4 T cells were predominantly CCR5.

CONCLUSION: These results reveal for the first time the prodigious heterogeneity of function and trafficking of CCR5 CD4 T cells in blood and in lymphoid tissue, with significant implications for rational approaches to prophylaxis for HIV-1 infection and for purging of the HIV-1 reservoir in those participants already infected.

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