Preserved function of regulatory T cells in chronic HIV-1 infection despite decreased numbers in blood and tissue

J Infect Dis. 2012 May 15;205(10):1495-500. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jis236. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are potent immune modulators, but their role in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) pathogenesis remains poorly understood. We performed a detailed analysis of the frequency and function of Tregs in a large cohort of HIV-1-infected individuals and HIV-1 negative controls. While HIV "elite controllers" and uninfected individuals had similar Treg numbers and frequencies, the absolute numbers of Tregs declined in blood and gut-associated lymphoid tissue in patients with chronic progressive HIV-1 infection. Despite quantitative changes in Tregs, HIV-1 infection was not associated with an impairment of ex vivo suppressive function of flow-sorted Tregs in both HIV controllers and untreated chronic progressors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / virology
  • Viral Load


  • RNA, Viral