HIV infection changes the lymph node (LN) tissue architecture, potentially impairing the immunologic response to antigenic challenge. The tissue-resident immune cell dynamics in virologically suppressed HIV+ patients on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) are not clear. We obtained LN biopsies before and 10 to 14 days after trivalent seasonal influenza immunization from healthy controls (HCs) and HIV+ volunteers on cART to investigate CD4+ T follicular helper (Tfh) and B cell dynamics by flow cytometry and quantitative imaging analysis. Prior to vaccination, compared with those in HCs, HIV+ LNs exhibited an altered follicular architecture, but harbored higher numbers of Tfh cells and increased IgG+ follicular memory B cells. Moreover, Tfh cell numbers were dependent upon preservation of the follicular dendritic cell (FDC) network and were predictive of the magnitude of the vaccine-induced IgG responses. Interestingly, postvaccination LN samples in HIV+ participants had significantly (P = 0.0179) reduced Tfh cell numbers compared with prevaccination samples, without evidence for peripheral Tfh (pTfh) cell reduction. We conclude that influenza vaccination alters the cellularity of draining LNs of HIV+ persons in conjunction with development of antigen-specific humoral responses. The underlying mechanism of Tfh cell decline warrants further investigation, as it could bear implications for the rational design of HIV vaccines.
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