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Volume 6 Supplement 3

AIDS Vaccine 2009

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P16-18. Regulatory T cell frequencies correlate with T cell activation in chronic HIV-1 infection


Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are potent modulators of immunity and may have an impact on T cell regulation and activation in the setting of HIV-1 infection. However, studies on Tregs in HIV-1 infection have shown divergent results and the exact role of Tregs in HIV-1 infection remains poorly understood. We here investigated Treg frequencies, immune activation and HIV-1 specific immunity in elite controllers (EC) and chronic progressors.


We studied the frequency of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Tregs in 16 HIV-1 elite controllers (HIV-RNA <50 copies/ml), 17 individuals with untreated chronic progressive HIV-1 infection and 9 HIV negative individuals by flowcytometric analysis. We also evaluated T cell activation by measurement of CD38 and HLA-DR expression on CD8 and CD4 T lymphocytes. HIV-1 specific CD8 T cell responses were available for a subset of individuals.


In concordance with previous data, EC had significantly lower immune activation than chronic progressors (p < 0.005). The frequency of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells was positively correlated with T cell activation as measured by frequency of CD8+CD38+ T cells (R2 0.42, P = 0.006). There was a strong trend to decreased Treg frequencies in elite controllers and HIV negative individuals compared to chronic progressors. In the elite controller subset HLA-B57 positive EC had lower Treg frequencies than non-HLA-B57 EC, but this trend did not reach statistical significance.


Our data suggest that Treg frequencies positively correlate with immune activation in this cohort of individuals with chronic HIV-1 infection and that elite control is associated with lower T cell activation as previously described. Treg frequencies may be lower in HIV-1 elite controllers compared to chronic progressors but further studies are needed to investigate this finding in more detail and to address the impact of Tregs on HIV-1 specific T cell responses.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Angin, M., Streeck, H., Wen, F. et al. P16-18. Regulatory T cell frequencies correlate with T cell activation in chronic HIV-1 infection. Retrovirology 6 (Suppl 3), P247 (2009).

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