HIV-Specific T Cells Generated from Naive T Cells Suppress HIV In Vitro and Recognize Wide Epitope Breadths

Mol Ther. 2018 Jun 6;26(6):1435-1446. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2018.04.009. Epub 2018 Apr 12.


The Berlin Patient represents the first and only functional HIV cure achieved by hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). In subsequent efforts to replicate this result, HIV rebounded post-HSCT after withdrawal of antiretroviral therapy. Providing HIV-specific immunity through adoptive T cell therapy may prevent HIV rebound post-HSCT by eliminating newly infected cells before they can seed systemic infection. Adoptive T cell therapy has demonstrated success in boosting Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus-specific immunity post-HSCT, controlling viral reactivation. However, T cell immunotherapies to boost HIV-specific immunity have been limited by single-epitope specificity and minimal persistence or efficacy in vivo. To improve this strategy, we sought to generate allogeneic HIV-specific T cells from human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A02+ HIV-negative adult or cord blood donors. We focused on HLA-A02+ donors due to well-characterized epitope restrictions observed in HIV+ populations. We show that multi-antigen HIV-specific T cells can be generated from naive T cells of both cord blood and adults using a reproducible good manufacturing practice (GMP)-grade protocol. This product lysed antigen-pulsed targets and suppressed active HIV in vitro. Interestingly, these cells displayed broad epitope recognition despite lacking recognition of the common HLA-A02-restricted HIV epitope Gag SL9. This first demonstration of functional multi-antigen HIV-specific T cells has implications for improving treatment of HIV through allogeneic HSCT.

Keywords: HIV-specific T cells; adoptive T cell therapy; allogeneic transplant.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allografts
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Epitope Mapping
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Epitopes