The B-Cell Follicle in HIV Infection: Barrier to a Cure.

TitleThe B-Cell Follicle in HIV Infection: Barrier to a Cure.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsBronnimann MP, Skinner PJ, Connick E
JournalFront Immunol
Date Published2018

The majority of HIV replication occurs in secondary lymphoid organs (SLOs) such as the spleen, lymph nodes, and gut-associated lymphoid tissue. Within SLOs, HIV RNA cells are concentrated in the B-cell follicle during chronic untreated infection, and emerging data suggest that they are a major source of replication in treated disease as well. The concentration of HIV RNA cells in the B-cell follicle is mediated by several factors. Follicular CD4 T-cell subsets including T-follicular helper cells and T-follicular regulatory cells are significantly more permissive to HIV than extrafollicular subsets. The B cell follicle also contains a large reservoir of extracellular HIV virions, which accumulate on the surface of follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) in germinal centers. FDC-bound HIV virions remain infectious even in the presence of neutralizing antibodies and can persist for months or even years. Moreover, the B-cell follicle is semi-immune privileged from CTL control. Frequencies of HIV- and SIV-specific CTL are lower in B-cell follicles compared to extrafollicular regions as the majority of CTL do not express the follicular homing receptor CXCR5. Additionally, CTL in the B-cell follicle may be less functional than extrafollicular CTL as many exhibit the recently described CD8 T follicular regulatory phenotype. Other factors may also contribute to the follicular concentration of HIV RNA cells. Notably, the contribution of NK cells and γδ T cells to control and/or persistence of HIV RNA cells in secondary lymphoid tissue remains poorly characterized. As HIV research moves increasingly toward the development of cure strategies, a greater understanding of the barriers to control of HIV infection in B-cell follicles is critical. Although no strategy has as of yet proven to be effective, a range of novel therapies to address these barriers are currently being investigated including genetically engineered CTL or chimeric antigen receptor T cells that express the follicular homing molecule CXCR5, treatment with IL-15 or an IL-15 superagonist, use of bispecific antibodies to harness the killing power of the follicular CD8 T cell population, and disruption of the follicle through treatments such as rituximab.

Alternate JournalFront Immunol
PubMed ID29422894
PubMed Central IDPMC5788973
Grant ListUM1 AI126617 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States