Integrin α4β7 expression on peripheral blood CD4+ T cells predicts HIV acquisition and disease progression outcomes

Journal: Science Translational Medicine

Published: 2018-01-24

DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aam6354

Affiliations: 22

Authors: 30

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Research Highlight

Gut-homing protein linked to HIV infection

© KATERYNA KON/Science Photo Library/Getty

© KATERYNA KON/Science Photo Library/Getty

Women with large numbers of immune cells that express a gut ‘homing signal’ on their surfaces are more susceptible to HIV infection — and have worse outcomes after acquiring the virus — than women with fewer such cells.

That’s according to a study of women from South Africa and Kenya, plus experiments in monkeys exposed to a simian form of HIV. In all cases, pre-infection levels of CD4+ T-cells, or ‘helper’ T cells, expressing α4β7 integrin, the gut-homing surface protein, were strongly associated both with later risk of HIV acquisition and the chance of the immune system becoming ravaged post-infection.

The international research team, which included scientists from the University of Cape Town, explained these findings with lab experiments showing that α4β7-expressing T cells in the gut are especially susceptible to HIV.

People living with the virus might thus benefit from a drug that targets α4β7 integrin. Fortunately, one exists and is already used to treat severe cases of Crohn’s disease and colitis — meaning it could be repurposed to combat HIV infection.

Supported content

  1. Science Translational Medicine 10, eaam6354 (2018). doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aam6354
Institutions Share
Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), South Africa 0.25
Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba, Canada 0.16
NIH NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation (LIR), United States of America (USA) 0.13
Department of Immunology, U of T, Canada 0.08
National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), South Africa 0.06
UCT Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (IDM), South Africa 0.05
South East Asia Research Collaboration with Hawaii (SEARCH), Thailand 0.04
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University, United States of America (USA) 0.03
UVRI-IAVI HIV Vaccine Program, Uganda 0.03
Department of Epidemiology, CU, United States of America (USA) 0.03
Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (HJF), United States of America (USA) 0.03
Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH), Uganda 0.02
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University, Uganda 0.02
U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP), WRAIR, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI), Kenya 0.02
Department of Medicine, U of T, Canada 0.01
University Health Network (UHN), U of T, Canada 0.01
University of Amsterdam (UvA), Netherlands 0.01
Department of Retrovirology, AFRIMS, Thailand 0.01