How do retroviruses manipulate the adaptive immune response?

Chronic infections with viruses, like HIV, affect millions of people worldwide and are typically characterized by functionally exhausted T cells. The massive expansion of immunosuppressive regulatory T cells (Tregs) during the late acute phase of the infection is an important phenomenon that leads to the exhaustion of effector cells. To study the basic mechanisms of immunological control and escape during retroviral infections the murine Friend virus model is used. The expansion, migration and physical interactions of Tregs and CD8+ effector T cells are visualized during the acute infection by using intravital 2-Photon microscopy. New insights into the interaction of Tregs with effector T cells are possible by a look into the intact bone marrow, as a center of infection. The results of this project may contribute to the understanding of how human Tregs can be manipulated. New therapeutic strategies based on Treg-targeted immunotherapies are thus expected in the future, potentially opening novel treatment alternatives for chronic infectious diseases.


  • Dr. Lucas Otto