Persistent accumulation of gut macrophages with impaired phagocytic function correlates with SIV disease progression in macaques

Eur J Immunol. 2017 Nov;47(11):1925-1935. doi: 10.1002/eji.201646904. Epub 2017 Jul 24.


The contribution of macrophages in the gastrointestinal tract to disease control or progression in HIV infection remains unclear. To address this question, we analyzed CD163+ macrophages in ileum and mesenteric lymph nodes (LN) from SIV-infected rhesus macaques with dichotomous expression of controlling MHC class I alleles predicted to be SIV controllers or progressors. Infection induced accumulation of macrophages into gut mucosa in the acute phase that persisted in progressors but was resolved in controllers. In contrast, macrophage recruitment to mesenteric LNs occurred only transiently in acute infection irrespective of disease outcome. Persistent gut macrophage accumulation was associated with CD163 expression on α4β7+ CD16+ blood monocytes and correlated with epithelial damage. Macrophages isolated from intestine of progressors had reduced phagocytic function relative to controllers and uninfected macaques, and the proportion of phagocytic macrophages negatively correlated with mucosal epithelial breach, lamina propria Escherichia coli density, and plasma virus burden. Macrophages in intestine produced low levels of cytokines regardless of disease course, while mesenteric LN macrophages from progressors became increasingly responsive as infection advanced. These data indicate that noninflammatory CD163+ macrophages accumulate in gut mucosa in progressive SIV infection in response to intestinal damage but fail to adequately phagocytose debris, potentially perpetuating their recruitment.

Keywords: CD163; Cellular immunology; Gut macrophages; HIV; Immunopathology; Phagocytosis; Simian immunodeficiency virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Disease Progression
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Phagocytosis / immunology*
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology*
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus