Preferential infection of α4β7+ memory CD4+ T cells during early acute human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection

RV254/SEARCH010 Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background. Establishment of persistent human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reservoirs occurs early in infection, and biomarkers of infected CD4+ T cells during acute infection are poorly defined. CD4+ T cells expressing the gut homing integrin complex α4β7 are associated with HIV-1 acquisition, and are rapidly depleted from the periphery and gastrointestinal mucosa during acute HIV-1 infection. Methods. Integrated HIV-1 DNA was quantified in peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from acutely (Fiebig I–III) and chronically infected individuals by sorting memory CD4+ T-cell subsets lacking or expressing high levels of integrin β7 (β7negative and β7high, respectively). HIV-1 DNA was also assessed after 8 months of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) initiated in Fiebig II/III individuals. Activation marker and chemokine receptor expression was determined for β7-defined subsets at acute infection and in uninfected controls. Results. In Fiebig I, memory CD4+ T cells harboring integrated HIV-1 DNA were rare in both β7high and β7negative subsets, with no significant difference in HIV-1 DNA copies. In Fiebig stages II/III and in chronically infected individuals, β7high cells were enriched in integrated and total HIV-1 DNA compared to β7negative cells. During suppressive cART, integrated HIV-1 DNA copies decreased in both β7negative and β7high subsets, which did not differ in DNA copies. In Fiebig II/III, integrated HIV-1 DNA in β7high cells was correlated with their activation. Conclusions. β7high memory CD4+ T cells are preferential targets during early HIV-1 infection, which may be due to the increased activation of these cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E735-E743
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Activation
  • Acute infection
  • HIV-1
  • Integrin β7


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