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1.  Influence of Episodes of Intermittent Viremia (“Blips”) on Immune Responses and Viral Load Rebound in Successfully Treated HIV-Infected Patients 
Presenting episodes of intermittent viremia (EIV) under combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is frequent, but there exists some controversy about their consequences. They have been described as inducing changes in immune responses potentially associated with a better control of HIV infection. Conversely, it has been suggested that EIV increases the risk of virological failure. A retrospective analysis of a prospective, randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled study was performed. Twenty-six successfully treated HIV-infected adults were randomized to receive an immunization schedule or placebo, and after 1 year of follow-up cART was discontinued. The influence of EIV on T cell subsets, HIV-1-specific T cell immune responses, and viral load rebound, and the risk of developing genotypic mutations were evaluated, taking into account the immunization received. Patients with EIV above 200 copies/ml under cART had a lower proportion of CD4+ and CD4+CD45RA+RO− T cells, a higher proportion of CD8+ and CD4+CD38+HLADR+ T cells, and higher HIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses compared to persistently undetectable patients. After cART interruption, patients with EIV presented a significantly higher viral rebound (p=0.007), associated with greater increases in HIV-specific lymphoproliferative responses and T cell populations with activation markers. When patients with EIV between 20 and 200 copies/ml were included, most of the differences disappeared. Patients who present EIV above 200 copies/ml showed a lower CD4+ T cell count and higher activation markers under cART. After treatment interruption, they showed greater specific immune responses against HIV, which did not prevent a higher virological rebound. EIV between 20 and 200 copies/ml did not have this deleterious effect.
PMCID: PMC3537296  PMID: 23121249
2.  Daptomycin Is Effective in Treatment of Experimental Endocarditis Due to Methicillin-Resistant and Glycopeptide-Intermediate Staphylococcus aureus▿  
Daptomycin is a lipopeptide antibiotic with potent in vitro activity against gram-positive cocci, including Staphylococcus aureus. This study evaluated the in vitro and in vivo efficacies of daptomycin against two clinical isolates: methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) 277 (vancomycin MIC, 2 μg/ml) and glycopeptide-intermediate S. aureus (GISA) ATCC 700788 (vancomycin MIC, 8 μg/ml). Time-kill experiments demonstrated that daptomycin was bactericidal in vitro against these two strains. The in vivo activity of daptomycin (6 mg/kg of body weight every 24 h) was evaluated by using a rabbit model of infective endocarditis and was compared with the activities of a high-dose (HD) vancomycin regimen (1 g intravenously every 6 h), the recommended dose (RD) of vancomycin regimen (1 g intravenously every 12 h) for 48 h, and no treatment (as a control). Daptomycin was significantly more effective than the vancomycin RD in reducing the density of bacteria in the vegetations for the MRSA strains (0 [interquartile range, 0 to 1.5] versus 2 [interquartile range, 0 to 5.6] log CFU/g vegetation; P = 0.02) and GISA strains (2 [interquartile range, 0 to 2] versus 6.6 [interquartile range, 2.0 to 6.9] log CFU/g vegetation; P < 0.01) studied. In addition, daptomycin sterilized more MRSA vegetations than the vancomycin RD (13/18 [72%] versus 7/20 [35%]; P = 0.02) and sterilized more GISA vegetations than either vancomycin regimen (12/19 [63%] versus 4/20 [20%]; P < 0.01). No statistically significant difference between the vancomycin HD and the vancomycin RD for MRSA treatment was noted. These results support the use of daptomycin for the treatment of aortic valve endocarditis caused by GISA and MRSA.
PMCID: PMC2443906  PMID: 18426900
3.  Efficacy of Telavancin in the Treatment of Experimental Endocarditis Due to Glycopeptide-Intermediate Staphylococcus aureus▿  
The efficacy of telavancin, a novel lipoglycopeptide, was evaluated in experimental endocarditis in rabbits using two clinical isolates of glycopeptide-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus: ATCC 700788 and HIP 5836. Infected rabbits were treated for 2 days with telavancin (10 mg/kg of body weight once daily intravenously) or vancomycin (1 g twice daily intravenously), administered with a computer-controlled infusion pump system simulating human serum kinetics. Vegetations were harvested at 16 h postinoculation in the control group and at the end of treatment in the drug-treated group. For ATCC 700788, MICs and minimal bactericidal concentrations (MBCs), respectively, were 1 mg/liter and 4 mg/liter for telavancin and 8 mg/liter and 128 mg/liter for vancomycin. For HIP 5836, MICs and MBCs, respectively, were 4 mg/liter and 8 mg/liter for telavancin and 8 mg/liter and 128 mg/liter for vancomycin. Peak and trough levels were 90 μg/ml and 6 μg/ml, respectively, for telavancin and 46 μg/ml and 6 μg/ml, respectively, for vancomycin. In glycopeptide-intermediate S. aureus ATCC 700788, telavancin sterilized 6 of 16 vegetations (37%), whereas vancomycin sterilized 4 of 20 (20%) (P = 0.29) compared with 0 of 17 in the control group. In HIP 5836 experiments, telavancin and vancomycin sterilized 5 of 16 (31%) and 1 of 15 (7%) vegetations (P = 0.17), respectively, compared with none in the control group. Telavancin reduced vegetation titers by 2.0 and 2.3 logs greater than vancomycin for the ATCC 700788 (4.6 [2.0 to 5.8] versus 6.6 [2.0 to 6.9] log CFU/g vegetation; P = 0.05) and HIP 5836 (4.4 [2.0 to 7.4] versus 6.7 [4.5 to 8.7] log CFU/g vegetation; P = 0.09) strains, respectively; these differences did not reach statistical significance. All isolates from vegetations remained susceptible to telavancin after therapy. The results suggest that telavancin may be an effective treatment for endocarditis caused by glycopeptide-intermediate S. aureus.
PMCID: PMC1913277  PMID: 17485502
4.  Inflammatory Responses in Blood Samples of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Patients with Pulmonary Infections 
We analyzed the characteristics of the inflammatory response occurring in blood during pulmonary infections in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients. A prospective study of consecutive hospital admissions of HIV-infected patients with new-onset radiologic pulmonary infiltrates was carried out in a tertiary university hospital from April 1998 to May 2001. Plasma cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP), interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) levels were determined at the time of admission and 4, 5, and 6 days later. Patients were included in a protocol addressed to study etiology and outcome of disease. A total of 249 episodes of infection were included, with the main diagnoses being bacterial pneumonia (BP) (118 episodes), Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) (41 episodes), and mycobacteriosis (36 episodes). For these three patient groups, at the time of admission the median CRP and cytokine levels were as follows: CRP, 10.2, 3.8 and 5 mg/dl, respectively (P = 0.0001); IL-8, 19, 3, and 2.9 pg/ml (P = 0.045); and TNF-α, 46.4, 44, and 75 pg/ml, respectively (P = 0.029). There were no significant differences in levels of IL-1β, IL-6, or IL-10 among the patient groups. A total of 23 patients died. At the time of admission, HIV-infected patients with BP had higher plasma CRP and IL-8 levels than did PCP and mycobacteriosis patients. TNF-α levels were higher in patients with mycobacteriosis. An elevated IL-8 level (>61 pg/ml) at the time of admission was an independent factor associated with higher mortality (odds ratio, 12; 95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 235.5).
PMCID: PMC404570  PMID: 15138189
5.  Abacavir/Lamivudine Versus Tenofovir/Emtricitabine in Virologically Suppressed Patients Switching from Ritonavir-Boosted Protease Inhibitors to Raltegravir 
There are few clinical data on the combination abacavir/lamivudine plus raltegravir. We compared the outcomes of patients from the SPIRAL trial receiving either abacavir/lamivudine or tenofovir/emtricitabine at baseline who had taken at least one dose of either raltegravir or ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitors. For the purpose of this analysis, treatment failure was defined as virological failure (confirmed HIV-1 RNA ≥50 copies/ml) or discontinuation of abacavir/lamivudine or tenofovir/emtricitabine because of adverse events, consent withdrawal, or lost to follow-up. There were 143 (72.59%) patients with tenofovir/emtricitabine and 54 (27.41%) with abacavir/lamivudine. In the raltegravir group, there were three (11.11%) treatment failures with abacavir/lamivudine and eight (10.96%) with tenofovir/emtricitabine (estimated difference 0.15%; 95% CI −17.90 to 11.6). In the ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor group, there were four (14.81%) treatment failures with abacavir/lamivudine and 12 (17.14%) with tenofovir/emtricitabine (estimated difference −2.33%; 95% CI −16.10 to 16.70). Triglycerides decreased and HDL cholesterol increased through the study more pronouncedly with abacavir/lamivudine than with tenofovir/emtricitabine and differences in the total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio between both combinations of nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) tended to be higher in the raltegravir group, although differences at 48 weeks were not significant. While no patient discontinued abacavir/lamivudine due to adverse events, four (2.80%) patients (all in the ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor group) discontinued tenofovir/emtricitabine because of adverse events (p=0.2744). The results of this analysis do not suggest that outcomes of abacavir/lamivudine are worse than those of tenofovir/emtricitabine when combined with raltegravir in virologically suppressed HIV-infected adults.
PMCID: PMC3552169  PMID: 22916715
6.  HIV vaccine trial willingness among injection and non-injection drug users in two urban centres, Barcelona and San Francisco 
Vaccine  2011;29(10):1991-1996.
Being able to recruit high-risk volunteers who are also willing to consider future participation in vaccine trials are critical features of vaccine preparedness studies. We described data from two cohorts of injection- and non-injection drug users in Barcelona, Spain [Red Cross centre] and in San Francisco, USA, [UFO-VAX study] at high risk of HIV/HCV infection to assess behaviour risk exposure and willingness to participate in future preventive HIV vaccine trials. We successfully identified drug-using populations that would be eligible for future HIV vaccine efficacy trials, based on reported levels of risk during screening and high levels of willingness to participate. In both groups, Red Cross and UFO-VAX respectively, HCV infection was highly prevalent at baseline (41% and 34%), HIV baseline seroprevalence was 4.2% and 1.5%, and high levels of willingness were seen (83% and 78%).
PMCID: PMC3747033  PMID: 21241735
HIV; HIV vaccines; IDUs; Injection and non-injection drug users; Willingness to participate in future trials
7.  Enhanced retention strategies and willingness to participate among hard-to-reach female sex workers in Barcelona for HIV prevention and vaccine trials 
The potential for implementation of HIV vaccine trials in hard-to-reach female sex workers in an inner city area of Barcelona, Spain was assessed via a study of HIV risk, willingness to participate and the success of retention strategies. In 130 women, serological HIV status, behavioral risk exposures and willingness to participate in future HIV vaccine trials were recorded every six months using a confidential questionnaire. An enhanced retention (ER) strategy was compared with a control retention (CR) strategy comprising the recording of data on appointment cards. HIV seroincidence and retention rates were estimated. Retention rates after 6 and 12 mo of follow-up in the ER group were 76% and 69% respectively compared with 16% and 13% in the CR group. Among the ER group 97% were willing to participate in HIV vaccine trials at baseline and, after 12 mo of follow-up. Willingness was significantly associated with higher HIV risk exposure, and higher education level. Successfully retaining these cohorts over time in settings with a high HIV seroincidence rate is an ongoing challenge that will need to be addressed to ensure participation in future trials. Furthermore, as we have demonstrated, the fact that retaining hard-to-reach populations is difficult should not exclude this target population for HIV vaccine and prevention trials.
PMCID: PMC3859767  PMID: 23291931
HIV; HIV vaccine; female sex workers; hard-to-reach women; vaccine preparedness studies
8.  Adenosine Deaminase Enhances the Immunogenicity of Human Dendritic Cells from Healthy and HIV-Infected Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51287.
ADA is an enzyme implicated in purine metabolism, and is critical to ensure normal immune function. Its congenital deficit leads to severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). ADA binding to adenosine receptors on dendritic cell surface enables T-cell costimulation through CD26 crosslinking, which enhances T-cell activation and proliferation. Despite a large body of work on the actions of the ecto-enzyme ADA on T-cell activation, questions arise on whether ADA can also modulate dendritic cell maturation. To this end we investigated the effects of ADA on human monocyte derived dendritic cell biology. Our results show that both the enzymatic and non-enzymatic activities of ADA are implicated in the enhancement of CD80, CD83, CD86, CD40 and CCR7 expression on immature dendritic cells from healthy and HIV-infected individuals. These ADA-mediated increases in CD83 and costimulatory molecule expression is concomitant to an enhanced IL-12, IL-6, TNF-α, CXCL8(IL-8), CCL3(MIP1-α), CCL4(MIP-1β) and CCL5(RANTES) cytokine/chemokine secretion both in healthy and HIV-infected individuals and to an altered apoptotic death in cells from HIV-infected individuals. Consistently, ADA-mediated actions on iDCs are able to enhance allogeneic CD4 and CD8-T-cell proliferation, globally yielding increased iDC immunogenicity. Taken together, these findings suggest that ADA would promote enhanced and correctly polarized T-cell responses in strategies targeting asymptomatic HIV-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC3519778  PMID: 23240012
9.  The HIV/AIDS Vaccine Candidate MVA-B Administered as a Single Immunogen in Humans Triggers Robust, Polyfunctional, and Selective Effector Memory T Cell Responses to HIV-1 Antigens ▿ ‡  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(21):11468-11478.
Attenuated poxvirus vectors expressing human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) antigens are considered promising HIV/AIDS vaccine candidates. Here, we describe the nature of T cell immune responses induced in healthy volunteers participating in a phase I clinical trial in Spain after intramuscular administration of three doses of the recombinant MVA-B-expressing monomeric gp120 and the fused Gag-Pol-Nef (GPN) polyprotein of clade B. The majority (92.3%) of the volunteers immunized had a positive specific T cell response at any time postvaccination as detected by gamma interferon (IFN-γ) intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) assay. The CD4+ T cell responses were predominantly Env directed, whereas the CD8+ T cell responses were similarly distributed against Env, Gag, and GPN. The proportion of responders after two doses of MVA-B was similar to that obtained after the third dose of MVA-B vaccination, and the responses were sustained (84.6% at week 48). Vaccine-induced CD8+ T cells to HIV-1 antigens after 1 year were polyfunctional and distributed mainly within the effector memory (TEM) and terminally differentiated effector memory (TEMRA) T cell populations. Antivector T cell responses were mostly induced by CD8+ T cells, highly polyfunctional, and of TEMRA phenotype. These findings demonstrate that the poxvirus MVA-B vaccine candidate given alone is highly immunogenic, inducing broad, polyfunctional, and long-lasting CD4 and CD8 T cell responses to HIV-1 antigens, with preference for TEM. Thus, on the basis of the immune profile of MVA-B in humans, this immunogen can be considered a promising HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate.
PMCID: PMC3194965  PMID: 21865377
10.  Association study of lipoprotein(a) genetic markers, traditional risk factors, and coronary heart disease in HIV-1-infected patients 
Objectives: General population studies have shown associations between copy number variation (CNV) of the LPA gene Kringle-IV type-2 (KIV-2) coding region, single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs6415084 in LPA and coronary heart disease (CHD). Because risk factors for HIV-infected patients may differ from the general population, we aimed to assess whether these potential associations also occur in HIV-infected patients. Methods: A unicenter, retrospective, case–control (1:3) study. Eighteen HIV-patients with confirmed diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) were adjusted for age, gender, and time since HIV diagnosis to 54 HIV-patients without CHD. After gDNA extraction from frozen blood, both CNV and SNP genotyping were performed using real-time quantitative PCR. All genetic and non-genetic variables for AMI were assessed in a logistic regression analysis. Results: Our results did not confirm any association in terms of lipoprotein(a) LPA structural genetic variants when comparing KIV-2 CNV (p = 0.67) and SNP genotypes (p = 0.44) between AMI cases and controls. However, traditional risk factors such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and CD4+ T cell count showed association (p < 0.05) with CHD. Conclusion: Although significant associations of AMI with diabetes, hypertension and CD4+ T cell count in HIV-patients were found, this study could not confirm the feasibility neither of KIV-2 CNV nor rs6415084 in LPA as genetic markers of CHD in HIV-infected patients.
● Individuals with HIV infection are at higher risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) than the non-infected population.
● Our results showed no evidence of LPA structural genetic variants associated with CHD in HIV-1-infected patients.
● Associations were found between diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension, CD4+ T cell count, and CHD.
● The clinical usefulness of these biomarkers to predict CHD in HIV-1-infected population remains unproven.
● Further studies are needed to assess the contribution of common genetic variations to CHD in HIV-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC3515864  PMID: 23230442
HIV; coronary heart disease; host genetics; copy number variation; LPA gene
11.  Selective Induction of Host Genes by MVA-B, a Candidate Vaccine against HIV/AIDS▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(16):8141-8152.
The aim of this study was to define the effects on antigen-presenting cells of the expression of HIV antigens from an attenuated poxvirus vector. We have analyzed the transcriptional changes in gene expression following infection of human immature monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DC) with recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing the genes encoding the gp120 and Gag-Pol-Nef antigens of HIV type 1 clade B (referred to as MVA-B) versus parental MVA infection. Using microarray technology and real-time reverse transcription-PCR, we demonstrated that the HIV proteins induced the expression of cytokines, cytokine receptors, chemokines, chemokine receptors, and molecules involved in antigen uptake and processing, including major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes. Levels of mRNAs for interleukin-1, beta interferon, CCR8, and SCYA20 were higher after HIV antigen production. MVA-B infection also modulated the expression of antigen processing and presentation genes: the gene for MICA was upregulated, whereas those for HLA-DRA and HSPA5 were downregulated. Indeed, the increased expression of the gene for MICA, a glycoprotein related to major histocompatibility complex class I molecules, was shown to enhance the interaction between MVA-B-infected target cells and cytotoxic lymphocytes. The expression profiles of the genes for protein kinases such as JAK1 and IRAK2 were activated after HIV antigen expression. Several genes included in the JAK-STAT and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways were regulated after HIV antigen expression. Our findings provide the first gene signatures in DC of a candidate MVA-B vaccine expressing four HIV antigens and identified the biological roles of some of the regulatory genes, like that for MICA, which will help in the design of more effective MVA-derived vaccines.
PMCID: PMC2916545  PMID: 20534857
12.  Increased α-Defensins 1-3 Production by Dendritic Cells in HIV-Infected Individuals Is Associated with Slower Disease Progression 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9436.
Defensins are natural endogenous antimicrobial peptides with potent anti-HIV activity and immuno-modulatory effects. We recently demonstrated that immature dendritic cells (DC) produce α-defensins1-3 and that α-defensins1-3 modulate DC generation and maturation. Since DC-HIV interaction plays a critical role during the first steps of HIV infection, we investigated the possible impact of α-defensins1-3 production by DC on disease progression.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Monocyte-derived DC (MDDC) were analyzed comparatively in healthy controls (HC) and HIV-infected patients, including untreated “elite” and “viremic” controllers, untreated viremic non-controllers and antiretroviral-treated patients. We found that production of α-defensins1-3 was significantly increased in MDDC from HIV-infected patients versus HC, and this increase was mainly due to that observed in controllers, while in non-controllers the increase was not statistically significant (controllers vs. HC, p<0.005; controllers vs. non-controllers p<0.05). Secreted α-defensins1-3 by immature MDDC positively correlated with CD4 T cell counts in controllers, but not in non-controllers. Moreover, independently of their clinical classification, HIV-infected patients with higher α-defensins1-3 secretion by immature MDDC showed slower disease progression, measured as no decrease in the number of CD4+ T-cells below 350 cell/mm3, lower increase of plasma viral load and no initiation of treatment over time. Plasma alpha-defensins1-3 levels lacked any relationship with immunologic and virologic parameters.
High production of α-defensins1-3 by immature DCs appears as a host protective factor against progression of HIV-1infection, suggesting potential diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive implications. This protective effect may arise from the activity of α-defensins1-3 to damage the virions prior and/or after their internalization by immature DC, and hence favoring a more efficient viral processing and presentation to HIV-specific CD4+ T cells, without or with a minor rate of transmission of infectious HIV-1 virions.
PMCID: PMC2828484  PMID: 20195543
13.  Distinct Gene Expression Profiling after Infection of Immature Human Monocyte-Derived Dendritic Cells by the Attenuated Poxvirus Vectors MVA and NYVAC▿ † 
Journal of Virology  2007;81(16):8707-8721.
Although recombinants based on the attenuated poxvirus vectors MVA and NYVAC are currently in clinical trials, the nature of the genes triggered by these vectors in antigen-presenting cells is poorly characterized. Using microarray technology and various analysis conditions, we compared specific changes in gene expression profiling following MVA and NYVAC infection of immature human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDC). Microarray analysis was performed at 6 h postinfection, since these viruses induced extensive cytopathic effects, rRNA breakdown, and apoptosis at late times postinfection. MVA- and NYVAC-infected MDDC shared upregulation of 195 genes compared to uninfected cells: MVA specifically upregulated 359 genes, and NYVAC upregulated 165 genes. Microarray comparison of NYVAC and MVA infection revealed 544 genes with distinct expression patterns after poxvirus infection and 283 genes specifically upregulated after MVA infection. Both vectors upregulated genes for cytokines, cytokine receptors, chemokines, chemokine receptors, and molecules involved in antigen uptake and processing, including major histocompatibility complex genes. mRNA levels for interleukin 12β (IL-12β), beta interferon, and tumor necrosis factor alpha were higher after MVA infection than after NYVAC infection. The expression profiles of transcription factors such as NF-κB/Rel and STAT were regulated similarly by both viruses; in contrast, OASL, MDA5, and IRIG-I expression increased only during MVA infection. Type I interferon, IL-6, and Toll-like receptor pathways were specifically induced after MVA infection. Following MVA or NYVAC infection in MDDC, we found similarities as well as differences between these virus strains in the expression of cellular genes with immunological function, which should have an impact when these vectors are used as recombinant vaccines.
PMCID: PMC1951336  PMID: 17537851

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