Analyses phénotypique et fonctionnelle des cellules T CD4+ spécifiques du VIH chez les patients contrôlant spontanément l’infection à VIH

Abstract : HIV Controllers are rare individuals able to spontaneously control viral replication in the absence of treatment. Several studies showed that controllers develop effective anti-viral T cell responses. Gag-specific CD4+ T cells could play a particular role in HIV control, because this population is preserved in comparison with the treated patients and correlates negatively with the viral load. In order to study this population, we performed a multiplexed single cell transcriptional and protein analysis from CD4+ T cells detected ex vivo by MHC-II tetramer labeling against the Gag293 peptide (Tet+). We compared the expression of 44 genes and 6 surface proteins in 9 Controllers patients and 9 treated patients. Firstly, we validated the high frequency of Tet+ CD4+ T cells in controllers compared to the treated patients, then we showed that Tet+ CD4+ T cells from controllers were activated and engaged in advanced Th1 differentiation with a cytotoxic profile. In addition, Tet+ CD4+ T cells from controllers showed a limited state of exhaustion, reflected by a lower expression of PD-1, which could be one of the reasons for maintaining their frequency and functions. In a second study, we studied follicular helper T cells (Tfh) among the Gag-specific CD4+ T cell population of HIV controllers. Tfh plays an essential role in the affinity maturation of the antibody response by providing help to B cells. To determine whether this CD4+ T cell subset may contribute to the spontaneous control of HIV infection, we analyzed the phenotype and function of circulating Tfh (cTfh: T cells CD4+ CD45RA- CXCR5+). We performed a MHC-II tetramer labeling against Gag293 peptide to detect HIV-specific cTfh (cTfh Tet +), and showed that this population is preferentially maintained in HIV controllers. Phenotypic analysis of Tet+ cTfh population showed a higher intensity of PD-1 expression (MFI) in the treated group suggesting abnormal immune activation in these patients. The function of cTfh, analyzed by the capacity to promote IgG secretion in cocultures with autologous memory B cells, did not show major differences between groups in terms of total IgG production. However, the production of HIV-specific IgG is significantly more efficient in the controller group, especially for the anti-Env response that is more than 30-fold greater than those of the treated patients. Finally, the frequency of Tet+ cTfh correlated positively with the production of specific IgG, supporting the idea of an important role of Tfh function in the humoral antiHIV response. Taken together, these results indicate that Gag-specific CD4+ T cell population supports the two arms of the antiviral immune response in HIV controllers: the cell-mediated response through a preferential differentiation toward Th1 cell type showing a cytotoxic profile, and the humoral response, reflected by preserved cTfh / B interactions, resulting in a vigorous memory response. Maintaining the function and frequency of these Gag-specific CD4+ T cells could therefore play an important role in HIV control
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Mathieu Claireaux. Analyses phénotypique et fonctionnelle des cellules T CD4+ spécifiques du VIH chez les patients contrôlant spontanément l’infection à VIH. Virologie. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017USPCC264⟩. ⟨tel-02293985⟩

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