INTRODUCTION: HIV causes defects in memory B cells in children, but the mechanisms of those defects have not been fully elucidated. One possible mechanism is the lack of T-cell help to B cells during immune reactions. However, few studies have assessed the effect of HIV on follicular helper T cells (TFH cells) in children. METHODS: In this study, follicular-homing CD4 T cells and memory B cells were assessed in HIV-infected children and compared with children from the community. CXCR5 and CD45RO were used as markers of follicular-homing T cells and memory T cells, respectively. Memory TFH cells were identified as CD3+CD8-CD4+CXCR5+CD45RO+PD1+. Central memory T cells were identified based on CCR7 expression. Relationship between the proportions of follicular-homing CD4 T cells and memory B cells were determined in multivariable regression models. RESULTS: Highly viremic HIV-infected children had lower proportions of memory TFH cells when compared with community control children. In multivariable analyses, high proportions of memory TFH cells were associated with increased percentages of resting memory B cells after adjusting for other covariates. CONCLUSION: The impact of HIV on follicular helper T cells could influence the accumulation of memory B cells in HIV-infected children.
Muema, D.M., Macharia, G.N., Olusola, B.A., Hassan, A.S., Fegan, G.W., Berkley, J.A., Urban, B.C., Nduati, E.W.