Reduced IL-7R T Cell Expression and Increased Plasma sCD127 in Late Presenting HIV-Infected Individuals

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2017 Jan 1;74(1):81-90. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000001153.


Background: Late presentation of HIV infection is associated with reduced chance of optimal immune recovery after initiating combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Interleukin-7 (IL-7) and the corresponding receptor, IL-7 receptor (IL-7R) made up of CD127 and CD132, are crucial for T cell homeostasis. This study aimed to describe IL-7R and IL-7 before and after initiation of cART in late presenting HIV-infected individuals, and the impact on immune recovery and T cell subset distribution after initiation of cART.

Methods: A total of 100 HIV-infected individuals initiating cART were included in a prospective study. Samples were collected at baseline and after 6, 12, and 24 months of cART. Proportion and expression {[median fluorescence intensity (MFI)]} of IL-7R on T cells, and plasma concentrations of soluble CD127 (sCD127) and IL-7 were determined.

Results: The IL-7R expression was reduced in late presenters with CD4 cell count <200 cells per microliter compared with nonlate presenters and healthy controls as demonstrated by lower proportion of CD127 + CD132 + T cells and lower CD127 MFI. In contrast, plasma sCD127 was higher. These differences were partly reversed after suppressive cART. Interestingly, the CD127 MFI on CD4 T cells was found to be a predictor of increased thymic output after 24 months of suppressive cART.

Conclusions: Severely altered IL-7R expression was found in late presenters, and associations between IL-7R expression and thymic output after 24 months of suppressive cART indicate an impact of a IL-7 response for the long term de novo production from thymus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-7 / blood
  • Interleukin-7 Receptor alpha Subunit / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasma / chemistry*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7 / analysis*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / chemistry*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • IL7 protein, human
  • Interleukin-7
  • Interleukin-7 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7