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High eomesodermin expression among CD57+ CD8+ T cells identifies a CD8+ T cell subset associated with viral control during chronic human immunodeficiency virus infection

Abstract : During HIV infection, increased CD57 expression among CD8(+) T cells has been associated with immune senescence and defective immune responses. Interestingly, CD57-expressing CD8(+) T cells exhibit a dual profile, being simultaneously highly cytotoxic (terminally differentiated effectors) and poorly proliferative (replicative senescent). Recent publications point toward a positive role of CD57-expressing CD8(+) T cell subsets, presumably due to their high cytolytic activity. We further investigated the phenotype of CD57-expressing CD8(+) T cells in healthy donors and during HIV infection combining CD57 expression to Eomesodermin (EOMES), a T box transcription factor which determines, coordinately with T-bet, effector and memory CD8(+) T cell differentiation. We defined in healthy donors two functionally distinct CD57-expressing CD8(+) T cell subsets exhibiting different levels of EOMES expression: EOMES(hi) CD57(+) and EOMES(int) CD57(+) CD8(+) T cells. EOMES(hi) CD57(+) cells exhibited low cytotoxic activity but preserved proliferative capacity and interleukin 7 (IL-7) receptor expression, whereas EOMES(int) CD57(+) cells exhibited obvious cytotoxic functions and a more terminally differentiated phenotype. We next performed a similar analysis in different contexts of HIV infection: primary infected patients, long-term viremic patients, aviremic patients treated with antiretroviral therapy, and HIV controllers; we demonstrated a higher percentage of CD57-expressing cells in all HIV-infected patients regardless of virological status. When heterogeneity in EOMES expression among CD57 cells was taken into account, we detected significantly higher proportions of EOMES(hi) CD57(+) cells among HIV-specific and nonspecific CD8(+) T cells from HIV controllers than in aviremic antiretroviral-treated patients and viremic patients. Importantly, such a peculiar non-terminally differentiated EOMES(hi) CD57(+) phenotypic profile was associated with viral control. Importance: This study demonstrates that functional heterogeneity exists among CD57-expressing CD8 T cells, which include both terminally differentiated, highly cytotoxic EOMES(int) CD57(+) CD8(+) T cells and less differentiated EOMES(hi) CD57(+) CD8 T cells, which do not exhibit immediate cytotoxic functions but present high proliferative capacity. Interestingly, HIV controllers present a high proportion of EOMES(hi) CD57 cells among CD57-expressing HIV-specific CD8 T cells compared to both long-term viremic and aviremic antiretroviral therapy (ART)-treated patients, suggesting a beneficial role for this cell subset in viral control.
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Federico Simonetta, Stéphane Hua, Camille Lecuroux, Sandie Gérard, Faroudy Boufassa, et al.. High eomesodermin expression among CD57+ CD8+ T cells identifies a CD8+ T cell subset associated with viral control during chronic human immunodeficiency virus infection. Journal of Virology, American Society for Microbiology, 2014, 88 (20), pp.11861--11871. ⟨10.1128/JVI.02013-14⟩. ⟨pasteur-01420525⟩

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