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Identification and characterization of HIV-specific resident memory CD8+ T cells in human lymphoid tissue

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Science Immunology  01 Jun 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 24, eaar4526
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aar4526

Taking residence to defend

In HIV+ individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy, lymphoid tissues (LTs) that CD4+ T cells home to are a key site of HIV persistence. Studying the immune response to HIV in LTs has remained a challenge. By obtaining LTs from HIV+ individuals, Buggert et al. have carried out comprehensive transcriptional and epigenetic analyses on CD8+ T cells in these LTs. They report that CD8+ T cells in LTs of HIV+ individuals have a signature associated with resident memory T cells (TRMs) and that the frequency of these HIV-responsive LT-resident CD8+ T cells was considerably increased in elite controllers. The study brings to the fore the importance of HIV-specific LT-resident TRMs in restraining HIV replication in LTs.


Current paradigms of CD8+ T cell–mediated protection in HIV infection center almost exclusively on studies of peripheral blood, which is thought to provide a window into immune activity at the predominant sites of viral replication in lymphoid tissues (LTs). Through extensive comparison of blood, thoracic duct lymph (TDL), and LTs in different species, we show that many LT memory CD8+ T cells bear phenotypic, transcriptional, and epigenetic signatures of resident memory T cells (TRMs). Unlike their circulating counterparts in blood or TDL, most of the total and follicular HIV-specific CD8+ T cells in LTs also resemble TRMs. Moreover, high frequencies of HIV-specific CD8+ TRMs with skewed clonotypic profiles relative to matched blood samples are present in LTs of individuals who spontaneously control HIV replication in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (elite controllers). Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis confirmed that HIV-specific TRMs are enriched for effector-related immune genes and signatures compared with HIV-specific non-TRMs in elite controllers. Together, these data indicate that previous studies in blood have largely failed to capture the major component of HIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses resident within LTs.

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