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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012, Article ID 829584, 10 pages
Clinical Study

Emergence of Exhausted B Cells in Asymptomatic HIV-1-Infected Patients Naïve for HAART is Related to Reduced Immune Surveillance

1Section of Microbiology, Department of Experimental and Applied Medicine, University of Brescia, Spedali Civili Square, 25123 Brescia, Italy
2Institute of Infectious Tropical Diseases, School of Medicine, University of Brescia, Spedali Civili Square, 25123 Brescia, Italy
3Virology Section and Retrovirus Centre, Department of Experimental Pathology, University of Pisa, 35-37 San Zeno Road, 56127 Pisa, Italy

Received 1 September 2011; Accepted 16 November 2011

Academic Editor: Andrea Gori

Copyright © 2012 Manuela Fogli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Alterations of B cell subpopulations have been described up to date as characterizing advanced stage of HIV-1 infection. However, whether such defects are relevant in subjects with a preserved number of CD4+ T cells (>350 cells/μL) is unclear. In a cross-sectional study, we investigated if signs of B cells exhaustion and impaired viral immune surveillance are present in a cohort of 43 asymptomatic HIV-1-infected patients with preserved CD4+ T cell counts (>350 cells/μL) and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) untreated. A dramatic expansion of exhausted tissue-like memory B cells (CD10-CD21lowCD27-) was observed. B cells alteration was related to an increase in Torque teno virus (TTV) load, used as surrogate marker of immune function. Successfully HAART-treated patients showed normalization of B cell subpopulations frequency and TTV load. These results provide new insights on B cell in HIV-1 infection and show that development of B cell abnormalities precedes CD4+ T cell decline.