The dual impact of HIV-1 infection and aging on naïve CD4+ T-cells: Additive and distinct patterns of impairment

Tammy M. Rickabaugh, Ryan D. Kilpatrick, Lance E. Hultin, Patricia M. Hultin, Mary Ann Hausner, Catherine A. Sugar, Keri N. Althoff, Joseph B. Margolick, Charles R. Rinaldo, Roger Detels, John Phair, Rita B. Effros, Beth D. Jamieson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


HIV-1-infected adults over the age of 50 years progress to AIDS more rapidly than adults in their twenties or thirties. In addition, HIV-1-infected individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) present with clinical diseases, such as various cancers and liver disease, more commonly seen in older uninfected adults. These observations suggest that HIV-1 infection in older persons can have detrimental immunological effects that are not completely reversed by ART. As naïve T-cells are critically important in responses to neoantigens, we first analyzed two subsets (CD45RA+CD31+ and CD45RA+CD31-) within the naïve CD4+ T-cell compartment in young (20-32 years old) and older (39-58 years old), ART-naïve, HIV-1 seropositive individuals within 1-3 years of infection and in age-matched seronegative controls. HIV-1 infection in the young cohort was associated with lower absolute numbers of, and shorter telomere lengths within, both CD45RA+CD31+CD4+ and CD45RA+CD31-CD4++ T-cell subsets in comparison to age-matched seronegative controls, changes that resembled seronegative individuals who were decades older. Longitudinal analysis provided evidence of thymic emigration and reconstitution of CD45RA+CD31+CD4+ T-cells two years post-ART, but minimal reconstitution of the CD45RA+CD31-CD4+ subset, which could impair de novo immune responses. For both ART-naïve and ART-treated HIV-1-infected adults, a renewable pool of thymic emigrants is necessary to maintain CD4+ T-cell homeostasis. Overall, these results offer a partial explanation both for the faster disease progression of older adults and the observation that viral responders to ART present with clinical diseases associated with older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere16459
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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