FOXP3 expressing CD127lo CD4+ T cells inversely correlate with CD38+ CD8+ T cell activation levels in primary HIV-1 infection

J Leukoc Biol. 2008 Feb;83(2):254-62. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0507281. Epub 2007 Nov 2.


During the course of HIV-1 infection, the status of immune activation has been determined to be a powerful indicator of disease progression. The immune system has adopted self-regulatory mechanisms to counterbalance undesirable immune responses. CD25+CD4+ T regulatory (Treg) cells that express the transcription regulator, forkhead box P3 (FOXP3), play an important role in this immunosuppression. Using a combination of Treg cell discriminatory markers (FOXP3, CD25, CD127), we predicted that an expansion of Treg cell subsets would negatively correlate with immune activation during the early stages of HIV-1 infection. We report that FOXP3+CD127lo expressing CD4+ T cells increases in primary HIV-1 infection over time. Furthermore, the FOXP3+CD127lo CD4+ T cells may, in fact, reduce the levels of T cell activation following primary infection. It is interesting that the positive correlation between FOXP3+CD127lo CD4+ and CD25+CD127lo CD4+ T cells noted in HIV-uninfected persons is not only lost but may also be reversed in early, chronic HIV-1 infection. Unlike FOXP3+CD127lo CD4+, the level of FOXP3+CD25+CD127lo CD4+ T cells did not correlate with T cell activation, suggesting that these cells were not effective in reducing T cell activation. These observations suggest that different Treg populations may have different effects on reducing immune activation in HIV-1 infection and that the FOXP3+CD127lo CD4+ T cell population may be particularly important in limiting immune activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1 / analysis*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Division
  • Disease Progression
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / analysis*
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / analysis
  • Interleukin-7 Receptor alpha Subunit / analysis*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Interleukin-7 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • CD38 protein, human
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1