The major obstacle to a cure for HIV infection is the persistence of replication-competent viral reservoirs during antiretroviral therapy. HIV-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have been developed to target latently infected CD4- T cells that express virus either spontaneously or after intentional latency reversal. Whether HIV-specific CAR-T cells can recognize and eliminate the follicular dendritic cell (FDC) reservoir of HIV-bound immune complexes (ICs) is unknown. We created HIV-specific CAR-T cells using human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and a CAR construct that enables the expression of CD4 (domains 1 and 2) and the carbohydrate recognition domain of mannose binding lectin (MBL) to target native HIV Env (CD4-MBL CAR). We assessed CAR-T cell cytotoxicity using a carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE) release assay and evaluated CAR-T cell activation through interferon gamma (IFN-κ) production and CD107a membrane accumulation by flow cytometry. CD4-MBL CAR-T cells displayed potent lytic and functional responses to Env-expressing cell lines and HIV-infected CD4 α T cells but were ineffective at targeting FDC bearing HIV-ICs. CD4-MBL CAR-T cells were unresponsive to cell-free HIV or concentrated, immobilized HIV-ICs in cell-free experiments. Blocking intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) inhibited the cytolytic response of CD4-MBL CAR-T cells to Env-expressing cell lines and HIV-infected CD4 α T cells, suggesting that factors such as adhesion molecules are necessary for the stabilization of the CAR-Env interaction to elicit a cytotoxic response. Thus, CD4-MBL CAR-T cells are unable to eliminate the FDC-Associated HIV reservoir, and alternative strategies to eradicate this reservoir must be sought.
- Chimeric antigen receptor t cells
- Follicular dendritic cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science