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Follicular T-cell subsets in HIV infection

recent advances in pathogenesis research

Xu, Yina,*; Ollerton, Matthew T.b,*; Connick, Elizabethb

Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS: March 2019 - Volume 14 - Issue 2 - p 71–76
doi: 10.1097/COH.0000000000000525
T-CELLS IN HIV INFECTION: Edited by Mathias Lichterfeld and Tony Kelleher

Purpose of review T cells within B-cell follicles of secondary lymphoid tissues play key roles in HIV immunopathogenesis. This review highlights recent findings and identifies gaps in current knowledge.

Recent findings B-cell follicles are major sites of virus replication and demonstrate significant impairments in the generation of humoral immunity in HIV infection. Follicular T helper cells (Tfh), follicular T regulatory cells (Tfr) and follicular CD8+ T cells (fCD8) play key roles in HIV immunopathogenesis. Tfh and more recently Tfr are highly permissive to HIV, and may serve as reservoirs of HIV in treated infection. Virus-specific CD8+ T cells are less abundant in B-cell follicles than extrafollicular regions, but their effector mechanisms remain an area of significant controversy. Impairments in Tfh likely contribute to impaired humoral immunity and potential mechanisms include B-cell counter-regulatory mechanisms, Tfr suppression and diminished repertoire breadth. A better understanding of the roles of Tfh, Tfr and fCD8 in HIV immunopathogenesis is critical to the development of effective HIV vaccines and cure strategies.

Summary Tfh, Tfr and fCD8 contribute to HIV persistence and impaired humoral immunity. A better understanding of their roles could facilitate vaccine development and HIV cure strategies.

aThe Kirby Institute, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

bDivision of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Correspondence to Elizabeth Connick, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, 1501 N. Campbell Ave, P.O. Box 245039, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA. Tel: +1 520 626 6887; e-mail:

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