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Volume 9 Supplement 2

AIDS Vaccine 2012

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Chronic progressive HIV-1 infection is associated with elevated levels of myeloid-derived suppressor cells


Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) have been described as suppressors of T cell functions in many tumor models. However MDSC in HIV-1 infection have not been studied to date. As impaired T cell function is a hallmark of chronic progressive HIV-1 infection, we hypothesized that MDSC also play a role here.


Surface staining and FACS analysis were performed on freshly isolated PBMC of HIV-infected individuals and compared to healthy controls and individuals with lung carcinoma. MDSC of late-stage HIV-infected subjects were isolated using magnetic beads and co-cultured with the respective CD8 T cells for evaluation of proliferative capacity.


We found that chronically HIV-infected HAART-naïve individuals had significantly higher CD11b+CD14-CD33+CD15+ MDSC levels than healthy controls (p=0.01). MDSC frequencies showed a positive correlation with viral load (r2=0.24, p=0.0002) and a negative correlation with CD4 count (r2=0.29, p<0.0001). Initiation of HAART led to a rapid drop in MDSC levels. MDSC from HIV-infected progressors restricted the proliferative capacity of CD8 T cells from healthy donors and of Gag/Nef-specific CD8 T cells from HIV-controllers in vitro. Furthermore CD11b+CD14-CD33+CD15+ MDSC induced the expansion of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells when co-incubated with PBMC from controllers in vitro.


We conclude that chronic uncontrolled HIV-infection is associated with elevated levels of MDSC which potentially contribute to the impaired T cell responses characteristic for the progressive disease stage.

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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 License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Vollbrecht, T., Roider, J., Stirner, R. et al. Chronic progressive HIV-1 infection is associated with elevated levels of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Retrovirology 9 (Suppl 2), P283 (2012).

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