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
University of Manitoba, Canada 0.16
NIH NIAID Division of Intramural Research (DIR), United States of America (USA) 0.13
University of Toronto (U of T), Canada 0.09
National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), South Africa 0.06
University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa 0.05
South East Asia Research Collaboration with Hawaii (SEARCH), Thailand 0.04
UVRI-IAVI HIV Vaccine Program, Uganda 0.03
Makerere University, Uganda 0.03
Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC), Emory University, United States of America (USA) 0.03
Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC), 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
U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC), United States of America (USA) 0.02
Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI), Kenya 0.02
University Health Network (UHN), U of T, Canada 0.01
Thailand Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), Thailand 0.01
University of Amsterdam (UvA), Netherlands 0.01