HIV causes inflammation that can be at least partially corrected by HAART. To determine the qualitative and quantitative nature of cytokine perturbation, we compared cytokine patterns in three HIV clinical groups including HAART responders (HAART), untreated HIV non-controllers (NC), and HIV-uninfected (NEG).
Multiplex assays were used to measure 32 cytokines in a cross-sectional study of participants in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). Participants from 3 groups were included: HAART (n=17), NC (n=14), and HIV NEG (n=17).
Several cytokines and chemokines showed significant differences between NC and NEG participants, including elevated IP-10 and TNF-α and decreased IL-12(p40), IL-15, and FGF-2 in NC participants. Biomarker levels among HAART women more closely resembled the NEG, with the exception of TNF-α and FGF-2. Secondary analyses of the combined HAART and NC groups revealed that IP-10 showed a strong, positive correlation with viral load and negative correlation with CD4+ T cell counts. The growth factors VEGF, EGF, and FGF-2 all showed a positive correlation with increased CD4+ T cell counts.
Untreated, progressive HIV infection was associated with decreased serum levels of cytokines important in T cell homeostasis (IL-15) and T cell phenotype determination (IL-12), and increased levels of innate inflammatory mediators such as IP-10 and TNF-α. HAART was associated with cytokine profiles that more closely resembled those of HIV uninfected women. The distinctive pattern of cytokine levels in the 3 study groups may provide insights into HIV pathogenesis, and responses to therapy.