Immune activation in the female genital tract during HIV infection predicts mucosal CD4 depletion and HIV shedding

J Infect Dis. 2011 Nov 15;204(10):1550-6. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir591. Epub 2011 Sep 21.


Plasma viral load predicts genital tract human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) shedding in HIV-infected women. We investigated whether local mucosal T-cell activation (HLA-DR, CD38, CCR5, and Ki67) contributed to HIV shedding in the genital tracts of HIV-infected women. We showed that cervical cytobrush-derived T cells expressed higher frequencies of T-cell activation markers (CD38+ and HLA-DR+) than blood-derived T cells. Expression was significantly higher in HIV-infected women than in uninfected women. We found that the frequency of activated proliferating cervical T cells (Ki67+; Ki67+CCR5+) broadly predicted HIV shedding in the genital tract in HIV-infected women, independently of plasma viral loads. Furthermore, activated cervical T cells (HLA-DR+CD38+ and HLA-DR+CCR5+) and local HIV shedding were independently associated with CD4 depletion in the genital tract. These data suggest that the presence of high frequencies of activated T cells in the female genital mucosa during HIV infection facilitates both local HIV shedding and CD4 T-cell depletion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cervix Uteri / cytology
  • Cervix Uteri / immunology
  • Cervix Uteri / virology*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Viral Load
  • Virus Shedding / immunology*