Combination Immune Checkpoint Blockade Enhances IL-2 and CD107a Production from HIV-Specific T Cells Ex Vivo in People Living with HIV on Antiretroviral Therapy

Chris Y. Chiu, Judy J. Chang, Ashanti I. Dantanarayana, Ajantha Solomon, Vanessa A. Evans, Rachel Pascoe, Céline Gubser, Lydie Trautman, Rémi Fromentin, Nicolas Chomont, James H. McMahon, Paul U. Cameron, Thomas A. Rasmussen, Sharon R. Lewin

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15 Citations (Scopus)


In people with HIV (PWH) on antiretroviral therapy (ART), immune dysfunction persists, including elevated expression of immune checkpoint (IC) proteins on total and HIV-specific T cells. Reversing immune exhaustion is one strategy to enhance the elimination of HIV-infected cells that persist in PWH on ART. We aimed to evaluate whether blocking CTL-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4), programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), T cell Ig domain and mucin domain 3 (TIM-3), T cell Ig and ITIM domain (TIGIT) and lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3) alone or in combination would enhance HIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell function ex vivo. Intracellular cytokine staining was performed using human PBMCs from PWH on ART (n = 11) and expression of CD107a, IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-2 was quantified with HIV peptides and Abs to IC. We found the following: 1) IC blockade enhanced the induction of CD107a and IL-2 but not IFN-γ and TNF-α in response to Gag and Nef peptides; 2) the induction of CD107a and IL-2 was greatest with multiple combinations of two Abs; and 3) Abs to LAG-3, CTLA-4, and TIGIT in combinations showed synergistic induction of IL-2 in HIV-specific CD8+ and CD107a and IL-2 production in HIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. These results demonstrate that the combination of Abs to LAG-3, CTLA-4, or TIGIT can increase the frequency of cells expressing CD107a and IL-2 that associated with cytotoxicity and survival of HIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in PWH on ART. These combinations should be further explored for an HIV cure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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