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HIV infection is associated with immune dysfunction, perturbation of immune-cell subsets and opportunistic infections. CD161++ CD8+ T cells are a tissue-infiltrating population that produce IL17A, IL22, IFN, and TNFα, cytokines important in mucosal immunity. In adults they dominantly express the semi-invariant TCR Vα7.2, the canonical feature of mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells and have been recently implicated in host defense against pathogens. We analyzed the frequency and function of CD161++ /MAIT cells in peripheral blood and tissue from patients with early stage or chronic-stage HIV infection. We show that the CD161++ /MAIT cell population is significantly decreased in early HIV infection and fails to recover despite otherwise successful treatment. We provide evidence that CD161++ /MAIT cells are not preferentially infected but may be depleted through diverse mechanisms including accumulation in tissues and activation-induced cell death. This loss may impact mucosal defense and could be important in susceptibility to specific opportunistic infections in HIV.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





951 - 961


Adult, Anti-HIV Agents, Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active, Apoptosis, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cells, Cultured, Cohort Studies, Escherichia coli, Female, Flow Cytometry, HIV, HIV Infections, Humans, Immunity, Mucosal, Immunohistochemistry, Interleukin-17, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Lymphocyte Count, Male, Middle Aged, NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily B, Receptors, CCR5, Receptors, CCR6, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, Time Factors