Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 29987877
Link to DOI – 10.1002/jia2.25144
J Int AIDS Soc 2018 07; 21(7): e25144
Combined anti-retroviral therapy (cART) transformed HIV-1 from a deadly disease into a chronic infection, but does not cure HIV infection. It also does not fully restore HIV-induced gut damage unless administered extremely early after infection. Additional biomarkers are needed to evaluate the capacity of therapies aimed at HIV remission/cure to restore HIV-induced intestinal immune damage and limit chronic inflammation. Herein, we aimed to identify a systemic surrogate marker whose levels would reflect gut immune damage such as intestinal Th17 cell loss starting from primary HIV-1 infection.Biomarker discovery approaches were performed in four independent cohorts, covering HIV-1 primary and chronic infection in 496 naïve or cART-treated patients (Amsterdam cohort (ACS), ANRS PRIMO, COPANA and CODEX cohorts). The concentration and activity of soluble Dipeptidylpeptidase 4 (sDPP4) were quantified in the blood from these patients, including pre- and post-infection samples in the ACS cohort. For quantification of DPP4 in the gut, we utilized two non-human primate models, representing pathogenic (macaque) and non-pathogenic (African green monkey) SIV infection. Four gut compartments were analysed in each animal model (ileum, jejunum, colon and rectum) for quantification of DPP4, RORC and TBX21 gene expression in sorted CD4+ cells. To analyse if sDPP4 levels increase when Th17 cells were restored, we quantified sDPP4 in plasma from SIV-infected macaques treated with IL-21.We showed that sDPP4 levels were strongly decreased in primary HIV-1 infection. Strikingly, sDPP4 levels in primary HIV-1 infection predicted time to AIDS. They were not increased by cART in chronic HIV-1 infection (median 36 months on cART). In the gut of SIV-infected non-human primates, DPP4 mRNA was higher in CD4+ than CD4- leucocytes. DPP4 specifically correlated with RORC expression, a Th17 marker, in CD4+ cells from the intestine. We further demonstrated that sDPP4 activity levels were increased in animals treated with IL-21 and that this increase was associated with restoration of the Th17 compartment and reduced inflammation. Furthermore, DPP4 mRNA levels in small intestine CD4+ cells positively correlated with circulating DPP4 activity.These data provide evidence that blood sDPP4 levels could be useful as a correlate for HIV-induced intestinal damage.