Nav: Home

Treg cells protect babies from getting HIV infection from their mothers

June 10, 2018

June 10, 2018 - Atlanta, GA - Scientists now report that Treg cells, a type of regulatory lymphocyte, may be protecting babies in the womb from getting infected with the HIV virus when the mother is infected. The research, from the Emory Vaccine Center, is presented at ASM Microbe, the American Society for Microbiology's annual meeting, held from June 7th through 11th in Atlanta, Georgia.

"Finding out what protects the majority of babies is important, as it can lead to ways to boost natural immune responses and make individuals resistant to HIV infection, said Peter Kessler, laboratory intern with the Emory University School of Medicine. Scientists had been puzzled for years by the fact that only a minority of babies born to mothers with HIV infection get the infection from their mothers. Currently, HIV infection can be successfully managed with antiretroviral drugs, but these drugs have to be given for life. Preventing the infection is very important, but there is no vaccine available yet.

Kessler and his colleagues from the Emory Vaccine Center found that levels of Treg lymphocytes were higher in the blood of newborn babies born to mothers with HIV infection who had escaped the infection themselves, compared with babies who were born with HIV infection.

Lymphocytes are cells of the immune system that protect the body by fighting bacteria and viruses. Treg cells, or regulatory T cells, are an important "self-check" in the immune system to prevent excessive immune reactions that could lead to tissue damage.

The researchers examined the blood of 64 babies who were born HIV-uninfected and 28 babies born HIV-infected and found that Treg cell levels were higher in uninfected babies at the time of birth. In contrast, other lymphocyte types were activated and higher in HIV-infected infants. The HIV virus can only infect cells that are activated, so Treg may protect from HIV infection by suppressing activation of other lymphocytes.

They analyzed the stored blood by flow cytometry, a technique that can differentiate between the different types of cells based on what markers they express on their surface. Regulatory T cells come in many forms with the most well-understood being those that express the markers CD4, CD25, and FOXP3.

"Even though the number of babies studied is relatively small, these findings indicate that Treg, by controlling immune activation, may lower the vulnerability of the babies to HIV or other chronic infections even before they are born," said Kessler. These results could pave the way for the development of vaccines or other immune-based therapies that could be used together with medications to prevent the spread of HIV or other infections from mothers to their babies.

A poster highlighting their work will be presented by Peter Kessler at the ASM Microbe 2018 meeting in Atlanta, GA, on June 10, 2018, 12:45-2:45 pm. The mothers and babies in this study were part of a CDC-funded clinical study in Malawi that looked at ways to prevent the spread of HIV from mothers to their babies during childbirth and breastfeeding.

Additional authors on this study are Surinder Kaur and Chris Ibegbu from the Emory Vaccine Center
-end-
ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology showcases the best microbial sciences in the world and provides a one-of-a-kind forum to explore the complete spectrum of microbiology. ASM Microbe is held in Atlanta, GA from June 7-11, 2018.

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of more than 30,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

American Society for Microbiology

Related Immune System Articles:

The immune system may explain skepticism towards immigrants
There is a strong correlation between our fear of infection and our skepticism towards immigrants.
New insights on how pathogens escape the immune system
The bacterium Salmonella enterica causes gastroenteritis in humans and is one of the leading causes of food-borne infectious diseases.
Understanding how HIV evades the immune system
Monash University (Australia) and Cardiff University (UK) researchers have come a step further in understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) evades the immune system.
Carbs during workouts help immune system recovery
Eating carbohydrates during intense exercise helps to minimise exercise-induced immune disturbances and can aid the body's recovery, QUT research has found.
A new model for activation of the immune system
By studying a large protein (the C1 protein) with X-rays and electron microscopy, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have established a new model for how an important part of the innate immune system is activated.
Guards of the human immune system unraveled
Dendritic cells represent an important component of the immune system: they recognize and engulf invaders, which subsequently triggers a pathogen-specific immune response.
How our immune system targets TB
Researchers have seen, for the very first time, how the human immune system recognizes tuberculosis (TB).
How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants
A newly discovered protein from a fungus is able to suppress the innate immune system of plants.
A new view of the immune system
Pathogen epitopes are fragments of bacterial or viral proteins. Nearly a third of all existing human epitopes consist of two different fragments.
TB tricks the body's immune system to allow it to spread
Tuberculosis tricks the immune system into attacking the body's lung tissue so the bacteria are allowed to spread to other people, new research from the University of Southampton suggests.

Related Immune System Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".