T cell activation is insufficient to drive SIV disease progression

Cristian Apetrei, Thaidra Gaufin, Egidio Brocca-Cofano, Ranjit Sivanandham, Paola Sette, Tianyu He, Sindhuja Sivanandham, Natalie Martinez Sosa, Kathryn J. Martin, Kevin D. Raehtz, Adam J. Kleinman, Audrey Valentine, Noah Krampe, Rajeev Gautam, Andrew A. Lackner, Alan L. Landay, Ruy M. Ribeiro, Ivona Pandrea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resolution of T cell activation and inflammation is a key determinant of the lack of SIV disease progression in African green monkeys (AGMs). Although frequently considered together, T cell activation occurs in response to viral stimulation of acquired immunity, while inflammation reflects innate immune responses to mucosal injury. We dissociated T cell activation from inflammation through regulatory T cell (Treg) depletion with Ontak (interleukin-2 coupled with diphtheria toxin) during early SIV infection of AGMs. This intervention abolished control of T cell immune activation beyond the transition from acute to chronic infection. Ontak had no effect on gut barrier integrity, microbial translocation, inflammation, and hypercoagulation, despite increasing T cell activation. Ontak administration increased macrophage counts yet decreased their activation. Persistent T cell activation influenced SIV pathogenesis, shifting the ramp-up in viral replication to earlier time points, prolonging the high levels of replication, and delaying CD4+ T cell restoration yet without any clinical or biological sign of disease progression in Treg-depleted AGMs. Thus, by inducing T cell activation without damaging mucosal barrier integrity, we showed that systemic T cell activation per se is not sufficient to drive disease progression, which suggests that control of systemic inflammation (likely through maintenance of gut integrity) is the key determinant of lack of disease progression in natural hosts of SIVs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere161111
JournalJCI insight
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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