Human leucocyte antigen-Bw4 and Gag-specific T cell responses are associated with slow disease progression in HIV-1B-infected anti-retroviral therapy-naive Chinese


Correspondence: S.-C. Lu, YouAn Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100069, China.


H.-P. Yan, YouAn Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100069, China.



In China, the majority of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections are predominately subtype B. It is important to characterize the HIV-1 subtype B-specific and its T cell response within the Chinese population, with the aim of identifying protective correlates of immunity to control HIV-1 infections. In this study, we performed a comprehensive analysis looking into the magnitude/strength of T cell responses directed at the Gag protein of the HIV-1 subtype B, one of the most conserved HIV-1 proteins. The study group consisted of anti-retroviral native and chronic HIV-1 subtype B-infected individuals. We used enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay to quantify the total T cell responses to HIV-1 Gag at the single peptide level. Twenty-eight (38%) peptides were recognized in 24 (82·8%) individuals. The p24 was identified as the most frequently recognized subunit protein with the greatest T cell response in the test, which correlated positively with CD4+ T cell count and inversely with viral load (VL). At the level of the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) supertypes, we detected the highest levels and a significant correlation with both the CD4+ T cell count and the VL with Gag T cell responses in Bw4/Bw4. These findings demonstrate that (i) the HIV-1B Gag p24-specific immune responses play an important role in controlling viral replication and slowing clinical progression; and (ii) HLA-Bw4/Bw4 allele has stronger T cell responses, which is associated with slow clinical progression in Chinese HIV patients.