Loss of CD127 expression defines an expansion of effector CD8+ T cells in HIV-infected individuals

J Immunol. 2005 Mar 1;174(5):2900-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.174.5.2900.


The immunodeficiency that follows HIV infection is related to the virus-mediated killing of infected CD4(+) T cells, the chronic activation of the immune system, and the impairment of T cell production. In this study we show that in HIV-infected individuals the loss of IL-7R (CD127) expression defines the expansion of a subset of CD8(+) T cells, specific for HIV as well as other Ags, that show phenotypic (i.e., loss of CCR7 and CD62 ligand expression with enrichment in activated and/or proliferating cells) as well as functional (i.e., production of IFN-gamma, but not IL-2, decreased ex vivo proliferative potential and increased susceptibility to apoptosis) features of effector T cells. Importantly, in HIV-infected individuals the levels of CD8(+)CD127(-) T cells are directly correlated with the main markers of disease progression (i.e., plasma viremia and CD4(+) T cell depletion) as well as with the indices of overall T cell activation. In all, these results identify the expansion of CD8(+)CD127(-) effector-like T cells as a novel feature of the HIV-associated immune perturbation. Further studies are thus warranted to determine whether measurements of CD127 expression on CD8(+) T cells may be useful in the clinical management of HIV-infected individuals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease Susceptibility / immunology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Female
  • Gene Products, gag / immunology
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / pathology
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7 / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7 / deficiency*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7 / genetics*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology


  • Biomarkers
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Gene Products, gag
  • Interleukin-2
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7
  • Interferon-gamma