Association between Higher CD32a+CD4+ T Cell Count and Viral Load in the Peripheral Blood of HIV-infected Patients

Natalia A. Arsentieva1, *, Oleg K. Batsunov1, 2, Alexander V. Semenov1, 2, Igor V. Kudryavtsev2, 3, Elena V. Esaulenko4, 1, Ekaterina V. Boeva1, 2, 5, Alexey Y. Kovelenov5, 2, Areg A. Totolian1, 2
1 Laboratory of Molecular Immunologyaint ,Saint Petersburg Pasteur Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia
2 Pavlov First Saint Petersburg State Medical University, St. Petersburg, Russia
3 Department of Immunology, Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Medicine, St. Petersburg, Russia
4 Department of Adult Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, Saint Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University, St. Petersburg, Russia
5 Leningrad Regional Сenter for Prevention and Control of AIDS and Infectious Diseases, St. Petersburg, Russia

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© 2021 Arsentieva et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Saint Petersburg Pasteur Institute, 14 Ulitsa Mira, Saint Petersburg 197101, Russian Federation; Russia; Tel: 8 (812) 233-20-92; E-mail:



The significance of CD32a receptor expression in individuals infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is currently unclear. Previously, B. Descours et al. (2017) concluded that in patients infected with HIV-1, CD32a is expressed on resting T cells that contain HIV DNA. According to the authors, these cells are reservoirs for inducible, replication-competent viruses. However, other studies have reported that CD32a expression is associated with activated T cells and is not a marker of HIV-1 reservoirs. The aims of this study were: to determine the significance of the CD32a marker in HIV infection, to assess its expression on T helper (Th) subpopulations in peripheral blood of HIV-infected individuals and to clarify the relationship between this expression and viral load.


For comparative analysis, the following groups were used: 27 HIV-infected patients; 11 individuals with Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection; 16 individuals with Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection; and 13 healthy donors. Peripheral blood served as the study material. The expression of CD32a receptor on Th cell subpopulations was assessed using flow cytometry. Nonparametric statistical methods were used for data analysis.


It was found that relative CD32a+ Th cell counts in HIV-infected individuals significantly exceeded corresponding values in other groups: healthy individuals (p<0.0001), those with HCV infection (p=0.0008) and those with HBV infection (p <0.0001). Among the Th subpopulations in HIV-infected patients, the CD32a receptor was predominantly expressed on Th1 cells (p<0.0001) and Th2 cells (p<0.0001), compared with Th17. We found a strong, direct correlation (r=0.78; p<0.0001) between viral load and CD32a+CD4+ T cell count in peripheral blood of HIV-infected individuals.


Thus, our results provide evidence that the CD32a receptor can serve as a marker of HIV infection, and its expression depends on viral load. Clinical material was used here, for the first time, to show that CD32a is predominantly expressed on Th1 and Th2 cells.

Keywords: CD32a, HIV infection, Th cells, HCV, HBV, Viral load, Flow cytometry.