Background: Helios has been reported to stabilize regulatory T (Treg) suppressive function. Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) expression in three human monocyte subsets modulates immune responses. Recently, our team reported that three monocyte subsets are associated with T helper cell differentiation in HIV-1-infected patients. Until now, the effects of monocyte subsets and their PD-1 expression on Foxp3+Helios+ Treg cells have not been fully characterized, especially during acute HIV-1 infection.
Results: The frequency of Foxp3+Helios+CD45RA+ Treg cells is significantly higher in patients with acute HIV-1 infection than those of healthy controls and chronic HIV-1-infected patients undergoing combined antiretroviral therapy. The frequency of Foxp3+Helios+CD45RA+ Treg cells is inversely correlated with CD4 T-cell counts and the CD4/CD8 ratio in chronic HIV-1-infected patients. During acute HIV-1 infection, the frequency of Foxp3+Helios+CD45RA+ Treg cells is inversely correlated with the frequency of the intermediate CD14++CD16+ monocyte subset, but positively correlated with PD-1 expression in both intermediate CD14++CD16+ and non-classical CD14+CD16++ monocyte subsets.
Conclusions: In this study, the perturbations of Foxp3+Helios+ Treg cells were characterized, and the association between monocyte subsets and their PD-1 expression and Foxp3+Helios+ Treg cells was evaluated during HIV-1 infection. Our observations provide new evidence of the roles for Foxp3+Helios+ Treg cells and PD-1 expression on monocyte subsets in HIV pathogenesis.
Keywords: Acute HIV-1 infection; Foxp3+Helios+; Monocyte subsets; PD-1.