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OBJECTIVE: We explored if HIV infection is associated with impaired T-Helper 17 responses against Streptococcus pneumoniae in the lung. METHODS: We recruited 30 HIV-uninfected healthy controls, 23 asymptomatic HIV-infected adults not on ART, and 40 asymptomatic HIV-infected adults on ART (Median time 3.5yrs), in whom we collected bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. We measured alveolar CD4+ T cell immune responses following stimulation with pneumococcal cell culture supernatant using flow cytometry-based intracellular cytokine staining. RESULTS: We found that the proportion of alveolar CD4+ T cells producing IL-17A following stimulation with pneumococcal cell culture supernatant (CCS) was similar between HIV-uninfected controls and ART-naïve HIV-infected adults (0.10% vs. 0.14%; p = 0.9273). In contrast, the proportion and relative absolute counts of CD4+ T cells producing IL-17A in response to pneumococcal CCS were higher in ART-treated HIV-infected adults compared HIV-uninfected controls (0.22% vs. 0.10%, p = 0.0166; 5420 vs. 1902 cells/100 ml BAL fluid; p = 0.0519). The increase in relative absolute numbers of IL-17A-producing alveolar CD4+ T cells in ART-treated individuals was not correlated with the peripheral blood CD4+ T cell count (r=-0.1876, p = 0.1785). CONCLUSION: Alveolar Th17 responses against S. pneumoniae are preserved in HIV-infected adults. This suggests that there are other alternative mechanisms that are altered in HIV-infected individuals that render them more susceptible to pneumococcal pneumonia.

Original publication




Journal article


J Infect

Publication Date





168 - 176


ART, BAL fluid, HIV, Lung, Pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, T helper 17, Adult, Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid, Culture Media, Female, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-17, Lamivudine, Lung, Malawi, Male, Middle Aged, Nevirapine, Pneumonia, Pneumococcal, Stavudine, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Th17 Cells, Viral Load, Young Adult