Altered signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM) expression in HIV infection and redirection of HIV-specific responses via SLAM triggering.

Research paper by L L Meroni, M L ML Fusi, S S Varchetta, M M Biasin, S S Rusconi, M L ML Villa, J E JE De Vries, G G Aversa, M M Galli, M M Clerici

Indexed on: 10 Sep '99Published on: 10 Sep '99Published in: Clinical Immunology


Signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM) is a transmembrane lymphocytic receptor which gets rapidly upregulated following cell activation. SLAM engagement augments T cell expansion and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production independently of CD28. SLAM signaling is regulated by the SLAM-associated protein. We evaluated the expression and function of SLAM on CD4(+) and CD8(+) lymphocytes in HIV-infected individuals with either recently acquired infection (Group A) or asymptomatic HIV infection (Group B) and in healthy controls (HC). Soluble antigen (HIV env peptides and tetanus toxoid)- and mitogen-stimulated proliferation and IFN-gamma and IL-10 production upon SLAM costimulation were also measured. Results showed that: (1) SLAM-expressing CD4(+) and CD8(+) lymphocytes diminish in group A patients compared to both group B patients and HC; (2) SLAM expression on CD4(+) lymphocytes is preferentially associated with the lack of CD7 on cell surface (CD4(+)CD7(-) produce IL-10 but not IFN-gamma); (3) SLAM engagement increases HIV env peptide-stimulated, but neither tetanus toxoid- nor PHA-stimulated proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in patients but not in HC; and (4) SLAM engagement augments IFN-gamma and reduces IL-10 production by env peptide-stimulated PBMC of HIV-infected individuals. These results demonstrate that early HIV infection results in an altered SLAM expression which correlates with a time-limited impairment of cell-mediated immunity. Furthermore, they show that triggering via SLAM potentiates HIV-specific proliferative responses with simultaneous downregulation of IL-10 and redirection of the response to TH0/TH1.