CD4+CD28null T Lymphocytes Resemble CD8+CD28null T Lymphocytes in Their Responses to IL-15 and IL-21 in HIV-infected Patients

Echeverría et al., J. Leukoc. Biol. (2015) - PMID: 26034206

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HIV-infected individuals suffer from accelerated immunologic aging. One of the most prominent changes during T lymphocyte aging is the accumulation of CD28(null) T lymphocytes, mainly CD8(+) but also CD4(+) T lymphocytes. Enhancing the functional properties of these cells may be important because they provide antigen-specific defense against chronic infections. The objective of this study was to compare the responses of CD4(+)CD28(null) and CD8(+)CD28(null) T lymphocytes from HIV-infected patients to the immunomodulatory effects of cytokines IL-15 and IL-21. We quantified the frequencies of CD4(+)CD28(null) and CD8(+)CD28(null) T lymphocytes in peripheral blood from 110 consecutive, HIV-infected patients and 25 healthy controls. Patients showed increased frequencies of CD4(+)CD28(null) and CD8(+)CD28(null). Both subsets were positively correlated to each other and showed an inverse correlation with the absolute counts of CD4(+) T lymphocytes. Higher frequencies of HIV-specific and CMV-specific cells were found in CD28(null) than in CD28(+) T lymphocytes. Activation of STAT5 by IL-15 and STAT3 by IL-21 was higher in CD28(null) compared with CD28(+) T lymphocytes. Proliferation, expression of CD69, and IFN-γ production in CD28(null) T lymphocytes were increased after treatment with IL-15, and IL-21 potentiated most of those effects. Nevertheless, IL-21 alone reduced IFN-γ production in response to anti-CD3 stimulation but increased CD28 expression, even counteracting the inhibitory effect of IL-15. Intracytoplasmic stores of granzyme B and perforin were increased by IL-15, whereas IL-21 and simultaneous treatment with the 2 cytokines also significantly enhanced degranulation in CD4(+)CD28(null) and CD8(+)CD28(null) T lymphocytes. IL-15 and IL-21 could have a role in enhancing the effector response of CD28(null) T lymphocytes against their specific chronic antigens in HIV-infected patients.

© Society for Leukocyte Biology.


T lymphocyte differentiation; cytotoxicity; immunosenescence

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