Low levels of peripheral CD161++CD8+ Mucosal Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells are found in HIV and HIV/TB co-infection

Emily B. Wong, Ngomu Akeem Akilimali, Pamla Govender, Zuri A. Sullivan, Cormac Cosgrove, Mona Pillay, David M. Lewinsohn, William R. Bishai, Bruce D. Walker, Thumbi Ndung'U, Paul Klenerman, Victoria O. Kasprowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Background: High expression of CD161 on CD8+ T cells is associated with a population of cells thought to play a role in mucosal immunity. We wished to investigate this subset in an HIV and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) endemic African setting. Methods: A flow cytometric approach was used to assess the frequency and phenotype of CD161++CD8+ T cells. 80 individuals were recruited for cross-sectional analysis: controls (n = 18), latent MTB infection (LTBI) only (n = 16), pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) only (n = 8), HIV only (n = 13), HIV and LTBI co-infection (n = 15) and HIV and TB co-infection (n = 10). The impact of acute HIV infection was assessed in 5 individuals recruited within 3 weeks of infection. The frequency of CD161++CD8+ T cells was assessed prior to and during antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 14 HIV-positive patients. Results: CD161++CD8+ T cells expressed high levels of the HIV co-receptor CCR5, the tissue-homing marker CCR6, and the Mucosal-Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cell TCR Vα7.2. Acute and chronic HIV were associated with lower frequencies of CD161++CD8+ T cells, which did not correlate with CD4 count or HIV viral load. ART was not associated with an increase in CD161++CD8+ T cell frequency. There was a trend towards lower levels of CD161++CD8+ T cells in HIV-negative individuals with active and latent TB. In those co-infected with HIV and TB, CD161++CD8+ T cells were found at low levels similar to those seen in HIV mono-infection. Conclusions: The frequencies and phenotype of CD161++CD8+ T cells in this South African cohort are comparable to those published in European and US cohorts. Low-levels of this population were associated with acute and chronic HIV infection. Lower levels of the tissue-trophic CD161++CD8+ T cell population may contribute to weakened mucosal immune defense, making HIV-infected subjects more susceptible to pulmonary and gastrointestinal infections and detrimentally impacting on host defense against TB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere83474
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 31 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Low levels of peripheral CD161++CD8+ Mucosal Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells are found in HIV and HIV/TB co-infection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this