Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 15271794
Blood 2004 Nov;104(10):3249-56
The present study demonstrates that CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells, expanded in peripheral blood of HIV-infected patients receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), exhibit phenotypic, molecular, and functional characteristics of regulatory T cells. The majority of peripheral CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells from HIV-infected patients expressed a memory phenotype. They were found to constitutively express transcription factor forkhead box P3 (Foxp3) messengers. CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells weakly proliferated to immobilized anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (mAb) and addition of soluble anti-CD28 mAb significantly increased proliferation. In contrast to CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells, CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells from HIV-infected patients did not proliferate in response to recall antigens and to p24 protein. The proliferative capacity of CD4 T cells to tuberculin, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and p24 significantly increased following depletion of CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells. Furthermore, addition of increasing numbers of CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition of CD4(+)CD25(-) T-cell proliferation to tuberculin and p24. CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells responded specifically to p24 antigen stimulation by expressing transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) and interleukin 10 (IL-10), thus indicating the presence of p24-specific CD4(+) T cells among the CD4(+)CD25(+) T-cell subset. Suppressive activity was not dependent on the secretion of TGF-beta or IL-10. Taken together, our results suggest that persistence of HIV antigens might trigger the expansion of CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells, which might induce a tolerance to HIV in vivo.