Modification of the HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell response in an HIV elite controller after chikungunya virus infection

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Objective:To evaluate the impact of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection on the quality of the HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell (CTL) response in an HIV elite controller.Design:Three blood samples were obtained from an elite controller at 27 days (EC-CHIKV, Sample 1, S1), 41 days (S2) and 1 year (S3) after CHIKV infection. Additionally, samples from another nine elite controllers and nine viremic chronics were obtained.Methods:CD4+ T-cell counts, viral load and immune activation were recorded. Natural killer (NK) cells and HIV-specific CTL quality were evaluated. Data were analyzed using nonparametric statistics.Results:A male HIV elite controller was confirmed for CHIKV infection. At S1, he presented 211 cells/μl CD4+ T-cell count, a HIV viral load blip (145 copies/ml) and high T-cell activation. NK cell percentage and activation were higher at S2. All parameters were recovered by S3. CTLs at S1 were exclusively monofunctional with a high proportion (>80%) of degranulating CTLs. By S3, CTL polyfunctionality was more similar to that of a typical elite controller. The distribution of CTL memory subsets also displayed altered profiles.Conclusion:The results showed that the phenotype and function of HIV-specific CTLs were modified in temporal association with an HIV viral load blip that followed CHIKV infection. This might have helped to control the transient HIV rebound. Additionally, NK cells could have been involved in this control. These results provide useful information to help understand how elite controllers maintain their status, control HIV infection and alert about the negative impact to the immune function of HIV-infected individuals living in CHIKV endemic areas.

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