The ligation of programmed death-ligand I (B7-H1) to T cells results in the preferential production of interleukin 10 (IL-10). We investigated if B7-H1 would be up-regulated in HIV infection, a disease characterized by increased IL-10 production, by measuring B7-H1, B7-1 (CD80), and B7-2 (CD86) expression and mRNA in 36 HIV-infected patients and in 22 healthy controls (HCs). Results showed that (1) B7-H1 expression and mRNA are augmented in cells of HIV patients; (2) increased IL-10 production in these patients is largely induced by B7-H1-expressing CD14+ cells; (3) an inverse correlation is detected between B7-H1 expression and CD4 counts, whereas the up-regulation of B7-H1 is directly associated with HIV plasma viremia; (4) antiviral therapy results in the parallel down modulation of IL-10 production and B7-H1 expression/ synthesis; and (5) B7-H1/CD80 and B7-H1/ CD86 mRNA ratios are increased in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of HIV patients compared with HCs. B7-H1 synthesis and expression are up-regulated in HIV infection, and the degree of dysregulation correlates with the severity of disease. Aberrant antigen presentation by antigen-presenting cells (APCs) that exhibit increased B7-H1 expression and IL-10 production in HIV infection could be responsible for T-lymphocyte unresponsiveness and loss of protective immunity. B7-H1 is a surrogate marker potentially involved in AIDS disease progression.
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