Objective: To study the contribution of γδ T cells to the persistent HIV reservoir.
Design: Fifteen HIV-seropositive individuals on suppressive ART were included. We performed parallel quantitative viral outgrowth assays (QVOA) of resting CD4 T (rCD4) cells in the presence or absence of γδ T cells.
Methods: Resting αβ+CD4 T cells were magnetically isolated from PBMCs using two different custom cocktails, only one kit contained antibodies to deplete γδ T cells, resulting in two populations: rCD4 cells and rCD4 cells depleted of γδ cells. Frequency of infection was analyzed by QVOA and DNA measurements.
Results: Recovery of replication-competent HIV from cultures of rCD4 cells was similar in 11 individuals despite the presence of γδ T cells. In four donors, HIV recovery was lower when γδ T cells were present. Expression of the cytotoxic marker CD16 on Vδ2 cells was the only variable associated with the lower HIV recovery. Our results highlight the potency of those responses since a mean of 10 000 γδ T cells were present within 2.5 million rCD4 cells. However, despite the low frequency of γδ T cells, the presence of cytotoxic Vδ2 cells correlated with lower HIV recovery from cultures of rCD4 cells.
Conclusion: Results of this study show that quantification of the contribution of γδ T cells to the reservoir is challenging because of their low numbers compared with conventional rCD4 cells and highlights the potent antiviral function of γδ T cells and the impact of their presence on the frequency of latent HIV infection.