Certain immune cells that has been shut down after being chronically exposed to HIV, could be reactivated, scientists have revealed.
Healthy B cells have a balanced mix of surface proteins that the immune system can use, either to activate the cell or to damp down its activity.
However, in people with long-term HIV infection who have not begun antiretroviral therapy, their B cells display a surplus of inhibitory receptors, the surface proteins used to apply the brakes on a B cell.
To explain why B cells becomes 'exhausted' and essentially shut down in people who are HIV-infected but treatment- naïve, the scientists used molecules called small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which acted at the genetic level to prevent exhausted B cells from replenishing inhibitory receptors.
After treatment with siRNAs, the exhausted cells responded more normally to conditions that typically would spur a B cell into action, such as the presence of a virus, demonstrating that the excess of inhibitory receptors may explain why exhausted B cells are so unresponsive.
Scientists from the 'National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation led by Lela Kardava, Susan Moir, and Anthony S. Fauci, NIAID Director and Chief of the laboratory had conducted the study.