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Plasma cytokine levels and HIV-specific immune responses during acute/early HIV infection
© Turk et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012
Published: 13 September 2012
It is believed that initial encounter between HIV and the human host triggers a complex series of events that dictate future disease course. Inter-individual differences among the host-players involved in these processes seem to early determine different rates of disease progression. Here we were aimed at studying the relationship between innate and adaptive soluble immune mediators, HIV-specific T-cell response and the course of acute infection.
Plasma levels of 37 cytokines were measured by Luminex technology in different groups of volunteers: 10 healthy donors (HD) and 50 HIV infected-subjects: 10 chronics, 12 aviremic controllers (EC) and 28 subjects enrolled during acute infection (AI). All HIV patients were off-HAART. Frozen PBMCs from the same individuals were used to determine HIV-specific T-cell responses by IFN-gamma ELISPOT. Data was compared inter- and intra-groups and correlated to viral load (VL), CD4 T cell counts and both virological (VL) and immunological (CD4 count) set-points (in AI), using parametric and non-parametric statistics.
Compared to HD, cytokines significantly elevated during acute and chronic infection included IL-1alfa, IL-10, IP-10 and TNF-alfa. Conversely, IL-12p40 and the macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC) were only significantly elevated in chronics and not in AI subjects who showed similar levels to HD and even EC. Moreover, levels of IL-12p40, IL-12p70 and MDC directly correlated with CD4 T-cell count among chronics and both CD4 T-cell count and immunological set point in AI. Regarding HIV-specific T-cell response during AI, proportion of Gag-specific and Nef-specific cells significantly correlated (directly and inversely, respectively) with immunological set point.
Both early and late components of the immune system help preserve CD4 T-cell subset in HIV+ subjects: key cytokines involved in the initiation and regulation of cellular immune response and anti-Gag specificity of effector T-cells. These features should be taken into account during vaccine formulation design to boost favorable results.
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.