Gut mucosal T cell responses and gene expression correlate with protection against disease in long-term HIV-1-infected nonprogressors

Sumathi Sankaran-Walters, Moraima Guadalupe, Elizabeth Reay, Michael D. George, Jason Flamm, Thomas P Prindiville, Satya Dandekar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Limited information is available on the molecular mechanisms by which long-term HIV-1-infected nonprogressors suppress HIV-1 infection and maintain immune functions. The intestinal mucosal immune system is an early target for HIV-1 infection and severe CDA+ T cell depletion. We evaluated mucosal T lymphocyte subsets, virus-specific cellular responses, gene expression profiles, and viral loads in intestinal mucosal biopsies of long-term nonprogressor (LTNP) patients as compared to chronically HIV-1-infected patients with high viral loads (HVLs) and CDA+ T cell loss, as well as HIV-seronegative healthy individuals. This study aims to identify the mucosal correlates of HIV disease progression and to determine the molecular changes associated with immune and intestinal dysfunction. LTNP patients had undetectable viral loads, normal CDA+ T cell levels, and virus-specific cellular responses in peripheral blood and mucosal compartments. Microarray analysis revealed a significant increase in gene expression regulating immune activation, cell trafficking, and inflammatory response in intestinal mucosa of HVL patients as compared to LTNP patients. Genes associated with cell cycle regulation, lipid metabolism, and epithelial cell barrier and digestive functions were down-regulated in both HVL and LTNP patients. This may adversely influence nutrient adsorption and digestive functions, with the potential to impact the efficacy of antiretroviral therapy. We demonstrate that the maintenance of mucosal T cells, virus-specific responses, and distinct gene expression profiles correlate with clinical outcome in LTNP patients. However, the intestinal mucosal immune system remains an important target of HIV-1 infection in LTNP, and these effects may ultimately contribute toward disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9860-9865
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 12 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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