Memory B-cell depletion is a feature of HIV-2 infection even in the absence of detectable viremia

AIDS. 2012 Aug 24;26(13):1607-17. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283568849.


Objective: Memory B-cell loss has long been recognized as an important contributor to HIV immunodeficiency. HIV-2 infection, which is characterized by a slow rate of progression to AIDS and reduced to undetectable viremia, provides a unique model to investigate B-cell disturbances.

Design and methods: B-cell subsets were evaluated in 38 HIV-2-infected individuals, along with markers of T-cell activation and serum levels of immunoglobulins and a major B-cell homeostatic cytokine, B-cell activating factor (BAFF). Untreated HIV-1-infected and seronegative control individuals were studied in parallel. Statistical analysis was performed using Mann-Whitney tests and Spearman's correlations.

Results: We found that HIV-2 was associated with significant depletion of both unswitched (CD27(+)IgD(+)) and switched (CD27(+)IgD(neg)) memory B-cells that directly correlated with T-cell activation, even in individuals with undetectable plasma viral load. Nevertheless, the presence of detectable viremia, even at low levels, was associated with significant memory B-cell loss and higher BAFF levels. Moreover, these alterations were not recovered by antiretroviral-therapy, as treated HIV-2-infected patients showed more pronounced B-cell disturbances, possibly related to their extended length of infection.

Conclusion: These first data regarding B-cell imbalances during HIV-2 infection show that, irrespective of viremia, prolonged HIV infection leads to irreversible damage of memory B-cell homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / genetics
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology*
  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology
  • B-Cell Activating Factor / immunology
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Disease Progression*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HIV Seronegativity / immunology
  • HIV Seropositivity / drug therapy
  • HIV Seropositivity / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • HIV-2 / drug effects*
  • HIV-2 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Viral Load
  • Viremia / diagnosis
  • Viremia / virology


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • B-Cell Activating Factor
  • RNA, Viral