Cytokines elevated in HIV elite controllers reduce HIV replication in vitro and modulate HIV restriction factor expression

the Women's Interagency HIV Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A subset of HIV-infected individuals termed elite controllers (ECs) maintain CD4+ T cell counts and control viral replication in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Systemic cytokine responses may differentiate ECs from subjects with uncontrolled viral replication or from those who require ART to suppress viral replication. We measured 87 cytokines in four groups of women: 73 ECs, 42 with pharmacologically suppressed viremia (ART), 42 with uncontrolled viral replication (noncontrollers [NCs]), and 48 HIV-uninfected (NEG) subjects. Four cytokines were elevated in ECs but not NCs or ART subjects: CCL14, CCL21, CCL27, and XCL1. In addition, median stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) levels were 43% higher in ECs than in NCs. The combination of the five cytokines suppressed R5 and X4 virus replication in resting CD4+ T cells, and individually SDF-1β, CCL14, and CCL27 suppressed R5 virus replication, while SDF-1β, CCL21, and CCL14 suppressed X4 virus replication. Functional studies revealed that the combination of the five cytokines upregulated CD69 and CCR5 and downregulated CXCR4 and CCR7 on CD4+ T cells. The CD69 and CXCR4 effects were driven by SDF-1, while CCL21 downregulated CCR7. The combination of the EC-associated cytokines induced expression of the anti-HIV host restriction factors IFITM1 and IFITM2 and suppressed expression of RNase L and SAMHD1. These results identify a set of cytokines that are elevated in ECs and define their effects on cellular activation, HIV coreceptor expression, and innate restriction factor expression. This cytokine pattern may be a signature characteristic of HIV-1 elite control, potentially important for HIV therapeutic and curative strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02051-16
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemokine receptors
  • Cytokines
  • Elite control
  • HIV
  • Restriction factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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