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Increased glucose metabolic activity is associated with CD4+ T-cell activation and depletion during chronic HIV infection.

Palmer CS, Ostrowski M, Gouillou M, Tsai L, Yu D, Zhou J, Henstridge DC, Maisa A, Hearps AC, Lewin SR, Landay A, Jaworowski A, McCune JM, Crowe SM

  • Journal AIDS (London, England)

  • Published 27 Oct 2014

  • Volume 28

  • ISSUE 3

  • Pagination 297-309

  • DOI 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000128


Glucose metabolism plays a fundamental role in supporting the growth, proliferation and effector functions of T cells. We investigated the impact of HIV infection on key processes that regulate glucose uptake and metabolism in primary CD4 and CD8 T cells.

Thirty-eight HIV-infected treatment-naive, 35 HIV+/combination antiretroviral therapy, seven HIV+ long-term nonprogressors and 25 HIV control individuals were studied. Basal markers of glycolysis [e.g. glucose transporter-1 (Glut1) expression, glucose uptake, intracellular glucose-6-phosphate, and L-lactate] were measured in T cells. The cellular markers of immune activation, CD38 and HLA-DR, were measured by flow cytometry.

The surface expression of the Glut1 is up-regulated in CD4 T cells in HIV-infected patients compared with uninfected controls. The percentage of circulating CD4Glut1 T cells was significantly increased in HIV-infected patients and was not restored to normal levels following combination antiretroviral therapy. Basal markers of glycolysis were significantly higher in CD4Glut1 T cells compared to CD4Glut1 T cells. The proportion of CD4Glut1 T cells correlated positively with the expression of the cellular activation marker, HLA-DR, on total CD4 T cells, but inversely with the absolute CD4 T-cell count irrespective of HIV treatment status.

Our data suggest that Glut1 is a potentially novel and functional marker of CD4 T-cell activation during HIV infection. In addition, Glut1 expression on CD4 T cells may be exploited as a prognostic marker for CD4 T-cell loss during HIV disease progression.