Wed. Oct 27th, 2021


Microscopic image of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) particularly attacks CD4 lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that is thought to be the leader of the immune system. Hamza Loucif, a PhD student in virology and immunology, and Julien van Grevenynghe, professor at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), have shown that optimizing energy metabolism in these key cells enables people with HIV 1 better to defend themselves against the virus. With a better metabolism, the role of these white blood cells in protection against the virus and thus the improvement of the overall immune system response becomes more important.

A combined action

This metabolic optimization utilizes the cell recovery process, called “autophagy”. It would have a positive double effect! Autophagy in CD4 cells provides amino acids, including glutamine, to burn the mitochondria, which act as a cell’s energy powerhouse. This energy is then used to secrete the protein interleukin-21 (IL-21), which plays a key role in the defense against HIV-1.

Researchers have shown in a previous study that IL-21 can “retrain” the immune system in HIV patients. In fact, the protein optimizes the energy supply of CD8 immune cells and in the same way their defense system.

A promising way forward

“It is important that a single treatment has a positive effect on the whole immune system, not just on a subpopulation of cells. As these cells help each other and communicate with each other, the beneficial effect of autophagy on different cell populations supports the importance of this path from a therapeutic point of view. , “said Professor van Grevenynghe.

“Our results confirm and consolidate the therapeutic benefit of autophagy in HIV-1 and potentially in other viral infections. This molecular mechanism has the potential to orchestrate an effective antiviral response by providing various energetic nutrients to nourish mitochondrial metabolism,” reports Hamza Loucif.

The majority of people infected with HIV-1 need to take daily antiretroviral treatments, which do not completely restore the proper functioning of their immune system. Action on the metabolic pathway can ultimately provide natural protection against the virus.

HIV: an innovative therapeutic breakthrough to optimize the immune system

More information:
Hamza Loucif et al., Autophagy-dependent glutaminolysis drives superior IL21 production in HIV-1-specific CD4 T cells, Autophagy (2021). DOI: 10.1080 / 15548627.2021.1972403

Provided by the National Institute for Scientific Research – INRS

Citation: Metabolic Restoration in HIV-Infected Patients as a Therapeutic Approach (2021, October 14) Retrieved October 14, 2021 from .html

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