Characterization of plasmablasts in the blood of HIV-infected viremic individuals: evidence for nonspecific immune activation.

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TitleCharacterization of plasmablasts in the blood of HIV-infected viremic individuals: evidence for nonspecific immune activation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBuckner, CM, Moir, S, Ho, J, Wang, W, Posada, JG, Kardava, L, Funk, EK, Nelson, AK, Li, Y, Chun, T-W, Fauci, AS
JournalJ Virol
Date Published2013 May
KeywordsAdult, Cell Differentiation, Female, HIV Infections, Humans, Hypergammaglobulinemia, Immunoglobulin G, Male, Middle Aged, Plasma Cells, Young Adult

Terminal differentiation of B cells and hypergammaglobulinemia are hallmarks of B-cell hyperactivity in HIV disease. Plasmablasts are terminally differentiating B cells that circulate transiently in the blood following infection or vaccination; however, in HIV infection, they arise early and are maintained at abnormally high levels in viremic individuals. Here we show that only a small fraction of plasmablasts in the blood of viremic individuals is HIV specific. Assessment of plasmablast immunoglobulin isotype distribution revealed increased IgG(+) plasmablasts in early and most prominently during chronic HIV viremia, contrasting with a predominantly IgA(+) plasmablast profile in HIV-negative individuals or in aviremic HIV-infected individuals on treatment. Of note, IgG is the predominant immunoglobulin isotype of plasmablasts that arise transiently in the blood following parenteral immunization. Serum immunoglobulin levels were also elevated in HIV-infected viremic individuals, especially IgG, and correlated with levels of IgG(+) plasmablasts. Several soluble factors associated with immune activation were also increased in the sera of HIV-infected individuals, especially in viremic individuals, and correlated with serum immunoglobulin levels, particularly IgG. Thus, our data suggest that while plasmablasts in the blood may contribute to the HIV-specific immune response, the majority of these cells are not HIV specific and arise early, likely from indirect immune-activating effects of HIV replication, and reflect over time the effects of chronic antigenic stimulation. Such B-cell dysregulation may help explain why the antibody response is inadequate in HIV-infected individuals, even during early infection.

Alternate JournalJ. Virol.
PubMed ID23487459
PubMed Central IDPMC3648153