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1.  Reduced CD14 expression on classical monocytes and vascular endothelial adhesion markers independently associate with carotid artery intima media thickness in chronically HIV-1 infected adults on virologically suppressive anti-retroviral therapy 
Atherosclerosis  2013;232(1):52-58.
HIV infection causes systemic immune inflammation, and increases the risk for cardiovascular (CVD) disease even among those on virologically suppressive anti-retroviral treatment (ART). We performed a biostatistical analysis and screen of candidate cellular and plasma biomarkers for association with carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT), independent of traditional CVD risk factors such as age, gender, systolic blood pressure (SBP), lipid levels, smoking and diabetes. We conducted a multi-stage analysis based on a cross-sectional study of CVD risk in HIV-infected subjects age >45 years on ART for >6 months. The goal of this analysis was to identify candidate cellular and plasma biomarkers of CIMT in HIV-1 infected adults. We further sought to determine if these candidate biomarkers were independent of traditional CVD risk factors previously identified in HIV negative adults. High-resolution B-mode ultrasound images of the right common carotid common artery (CCA) were obtained. Plasma soluble inflammatory mediators, cytokines and chemokines were detected. Monocytes were defined by CD14/CD16 expression, and CD8+ T-cell activation by CD38/HLA-DR expression. Subjects were a median of 49.5 years old, 87% male, had a CIMT of 0.73 mm, FRS of 6%, a median viral load of 48 copies/mL, and CD4+ T cell count of 479 cells/μL. Soluble VCAM-1, and expansion of CD14dimCD16− monocytes each associated with higher CIMT independently of age and SBP. These factors are distinct components of a shared atherogenic process; 1) vascular endothelial molecular expression and 2) vascular monocytes that enter into the vascular endothelium and promote atherosclerotic plaque.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.10.021
PMCID: PMC3919042  PMID: 24401216
HIV; Carotid intima-media; CIMT; Cardiovascular disease; Framingham risk score; Biomarker; Screen; Regression; CD14; Monocytes; VCAM-1; Cytokines
2.  Lower-Sensitivity and Avidity Modifications of the Vitros Anti-HIV 1+2 Assay for Detection of Recent HIV Infections and Incidence Estimation 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(12):3968-3976.
Recent-infection testing assays/algorithms (RITAs) have been developed to exploit the titer and avidity of HIV antibody evolution following seroconversion for incidence estimation. The Vitros Anti-HIV 1+2 assay (Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics) was approved by the FDA to detect HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections. We developed a less-sensitive (LS) and an avidity-modified version of this assay to detect recent HIV infection. Seroconversion panels (80 subjects, 416 samples) were tested to calculate the mean duration of recent infection (MDR) for these assays. A panel from known long-term (2+ years) HIV-infected subjects on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) (n = 134) and subjects with low CD4 counts (AIDS patients [n = 140]) was used to measure the false-recent rate (FRR) of the assays. Using a signal-to-cutoff ratio of 20 and the LS-Vitros assay gave a RITA MDR of 215 days (95% confidence interval [95% CI], ±65 days) and using an avidity index (AI) of 0.6 gave an MDR of 170 days (±44 days), while a combination of the two assays yielded a MDR of 146 days (±38.6) and an FRR of 8%. Misclassifying subjects with known long-term infection as recently infected occurred in 14% of AIDS patients and 29% (95% CI, 22, 38) of HAART subjects and 3% (95% CI, 0.8, 7.2) and 42% (95% CI, 33, 51), respectively, for the LS- and avidity-modified Vitros assays, with a misclassification rate of 15% (95% CI, 11, 20) overall using a dual-assay algorithm. Both modified Vitros assays can be used to estimate the length of time since seroconversion and in calculations for HIV incidence. Like other RITAs, they are subject to high FRR in subjects on HAART or with AIDS.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01454-12
PMCID: PMC3503010  PMID: 23035182
3.  Matrix metalloproteinase levels in early HIV infection and relation to in vivo brain status 
Journal of neurovirology  2013;19(5):10.1007/s13365-013-0197-3.
Background
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have been implicated in HIV associated neurological injury; however, this relationship has not been studied early in infection.
Methods
Plasma levels of MMP-1, -2, -7, -9, and -10 measured using Luminex technology were compared in 52 HIV and 21 seronegative participants of the Chicago Early HIV Infection study. MMP levels were also examined in HIV subgroups defined by antibody reactivity, viremia, and antiretroviral status, as well as in available CSF samples (n=9). MMPs were evaluated for patterns of relationship to cognitive function and to quantitative magnetic resonance measurements of the brain derived in vivo.
Results
Plasma MMP-2 levels were significantly reduced in early HIV infection and correlated with altered white matter integrity and atrophic brain changes. MMP-9 levels were higher in the treated than naïve HIV subgroup. Only MMP-2 and -9 were detected in CSF; CSF MMP-2 correlated with white matter integrity and with volumetric changes in basal ganglia. Relationships with cognitive function were also identified.
Conclusions
MMP-2 levels in plasma and in CSF correspond to early changes in brain structure and function. These findings establish a link between MMPs and neurological status previously unidentified in early HIV infection.
doi:10.1007/s13365-013-0197-3
PMCID: PMC3819028  PMID: 23979706
Matrix metalloproteinases; Acute HIV; diffusion tensor imaging; neuro-AIDS; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder
4.  Fetal production of growth factors and inflammatory mediators predicts pulmonary hypertension in congenital diaphragmatic hernia 
Pediatric research  2013;74(3):290-298.
Background
Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) represents a spectrum of lung hypoplasia and consequent pulmonary hypertension is an important cause of postnatal morbidity and mortality. We studied biomarkers at the maternal-fetal interface to understand factors associated with the persistence of pulmonary hypertension.
Methods
Maternal and cord blood samples from fetuses with CDH and unaffected controls were analyzed using a human 39plex immunoassay kit. Cellular trafficking between the mother and the fetu was quantified using quantitative real-time PCR for non-shared alleles. Biomarker profiles were then correlated with CDH severity based on the degree of pulmonary hypertension.
Results
Cord blood levels of epidermal growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, and several inflammatory mediators increased significantly as the severity of CDH increased, while maternal levels growth factors and mediators decreased significantly with CDH severity. Maternal cells were increased in fetuses with severe CDH compared to controls, with elevated levels of the chemokine CXCL-10 in patients with the highest trafficking.
Conclusion
Patients with CDH demonstrate pro-inflammatory and chemotactic signals in fetal blood at the time of birth. Since some of these molecules have been implicated in the development of pulmonary hypertension, prenatal strategies targeting specific molecular pathways may be useful adjuncts to current fetal therapies.
doi:10.1038/pr.2013.98
PMCID: PMC4164304  PMID: 23770923
5.  Long-Term Reduction in Peripheral Blood HIV Type 1 Reservoirs Following Reduced-Intensity Conditioning Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;207(11):1694-1702.
Background. The long-term impact of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reservoirs in patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is largely unknown.
Methods. We studied the effects of a reduced-intensity conditioning allogeneic HSCT from donors with wild-type–CCR5+ cells on HIV-1 peripheral blood reservoirs in 2 patients heterozygous for the ccr5Δ32 mutation. In-depth analyses of the HIV-1 reservoir size in peripheral blood, coreceptor use, and specific antibody responses were performed on samples obtained before and up to 3.5 years after HSCT receipt.
Results. Although HIV-1 DNA was readily detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) before and 2–3 months after HSCT receipt, HIV-1 DNA and RNA were undetectable in PBMCs, CD4+ T cells, or plasma up to 21 and 42 months after HSCT. The loss of detectable HIV-1 correlated temporally with full donor chimerism, development of graft-versus-host disease, and decreases in HIV-specific antibody levels.
Conclusions. The ability of donor cells to engraft without evidence of ongoing HIV-1 infection suggests that HIV-1 replication may be fully suppressed during cART and does not contribute to maintenance of viral reservoirs in peripheral blood in our patients. HSCTs with wild-type–CCR5+ donor cells can lead to a sustained reduction in the size of the peripheral reservoir of HIV-1.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jit086
PMCID: PMC3636784  PMID: 23460751
HIV-1; viral reservoirs; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; HIV-1 persistence; CCR5; reduced-intensity allogeneic stem cell transplantation
6.  Monocytes Expand with Immune Dysregulation and Is Associated with Insulin Resistance in Older Individuals with Chronic HIV 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90330.
Background
Rates of insulin resistance are increased in HIV-infected patients on stable antiretroviral therapy (ART). Such increase may partially be due to HIV-induced immune dysregulation involving monocytes (MO) and its subsets.
Materials and Methods
Cross-sectional analysis of 141 HIV-infected subjects age ≥ 40 years on stable ART. Homeostatic model assessment–insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and rates of metabolic syndrome were calculated. Subjects were classified by fasting glucose and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) into clinical diabetes categories. Multi-parametric flow cytometry was used to determine MO subset percentages: [classical (CD14++CD16−), intermediate (CD14++CD16+), non-classical (CD14low/+CD16++), and a recently identified fourth (CD14low/+CD16−) ‘transitional’ MO subset] and percentage of activated (CD38+HLA-DR+) CD8 T cells. Absolute levels of cells were calculated using clinical CBC and T cell subset data. Multiple plasma soluble biomarkers were assessed by Luminex technology.
Results
Median age 50 years, CD4 count (percent) 505 cells/µL (29%), and 89% male. Total MO (r = −0.23, p = 0.006) and classical and non-classical MO subsets correlated negatively with CD4 percent. No correlations were seen with CD4 count as absolute values. Log-total MO and log-classical MO predicted HOMA-IR independently of HIV immuno-virologic and diabetes risk factors (β = 0.42, p = 0.02 and β = 0.35, p = 0.02, respectively) and were increased in subjects with metabolic syndrome (p = 0.03 and p = 0.05 respectively). Total and/or subset MO levels correlated with multiple soluble plasma biomarkers including CRP, IL-6, MMP-9, MPO, SAA, SAP and tPAI-1, with tPAI-1 independently predicting HOMA-IR (β = 0.74, p<0.001).
Conclusions
MO levels increase with worsening HIV immune dysregulation as assessed by CD4 percent. CD4 percent may provide additional information about MO and metabolic risk in this population beyond absolute values. MO, and specifically classical MO, may contribute to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome during chronic HIV infection. Multiple soluble plasma biomarkers including tPAI-1 increase with increase in MO. Levels of tPAI-1 independently predict the development of insulin resistance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090330
PMCID: PMC3937368  PMID: 24587328
7.  IL-1Β Enriched Monocytes Mount Massive IL-6 Responses to Common Inflammatory Triggers among Chronically HIV-1 Infected Adults on Stable Anti-Retroviral Therapy at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75500.
Chronic infection by HIV increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) despite effective antiretroviral therapy (ART). The mechanisms linking HIV to CVD have yet to be fully elucidated. High plasma levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6, which may be triggered by IL-1β, is a biomarker of CVD risk in HIV-negative adults, and of all-cause mortality in HIV disease. Monocytes play a pivotal role in atherosclerosis, and may be major mediators of HIV-associated inflammation. We therefore hypothesized that monocytes from HIV-infected adults would display high inflammatory responses. Employing a 10-color flow cytometry intracellular cytokine staining assay, we directly assessed cytokine and chemokine responses of monocytes from the cryopreserved peripheral blood of 33 chronically HIV-1 infected subjects. Participants were 45 years or older, on virologically suppressive ART and at risk for CVD. This group was compared to 14 HIV-negative subjects matched for age and gender, with similar CVD risk. We simultaneously detected intracellular expression of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF in blood monocytes in the basal state and after stimulation by triggers commonly found in the blood of treated, chronically HIV-infected subjects: lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL). In the absence of stimulation, monocytes from treated HIV-infected subjects displayed a high frequency of cells producing IL-1β (median 19.5%), compared to low levels in HIV-uninfected persons (0.9% p<0.0001). IL-8, which is induced by IL-1β, was also highly expressed in the HIV-infected group in the absence of stimulation, 43.7% compared to 1.9% in HIV-uninfected subjects, p<0.0001. Strikingly, high basal expression of IL-1β by monocytes predicted high IL-6 levels in the plasma, and high monocyte IL-6 responses in HIV-infected subjects. Hyper-inflammatory IL-1β enriched monocytes may be a major source of IL-6 production and systemic inflammation in HIV-infected adults, and may contribute to the risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease in treated HIV infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075500
PMCID: PMC3783392  PMID: 24086545
8.  Soluble mediators of inflammation in HIV and their implications for therapeutics and vaccine development 
Cytokine & growth factor reviews  2012;23(0):193-206.
From early in the HIV epidemic it was appreciated that many inflammatory markers such as neopterin and TNF-α were elevated in patients with AIDS. With the advent of modern technology able to measure a broad array of cytokines, we now know that from the earliest points of infection HIV induces a cytokine storm. This review will focus on how cytokines are disturbed in HIV infection and will explore potential therapeutic uses of cytokines. These factors can be used directly as therapy during HIV infection, either to suppress viral replication or prevent deleterious immune effects of infection, such as CD4+ T cell depletion. Cytokines also show great promise as adjuvants in the development of HIV vaccines, which would be critical for the eventual control of the epidemic.
doi:10.1016/j.cytogfr.2012.05.006
PMCID: PMC3418433  PMID: 22743035
HIV; cytokine; chemokine; immune activation; vaccine
9.  CD57 Expression and Cytokine Production by T Cells in Lesional and Unaffected Skin from Patients with Psoriasis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e52144.
Background
The immunopathogenic mechanisms leading to psoriasis remain unresolved. CD57 is a marker of replicative inability and immunosenescence on CD8+ T cells and the proportion of CD57 expressing CD8+ T cells is increased in a number of inflammatory conditions.
Methodology
We examined the expression of CD57 on T cells in the skin of patients affected with psoriasis, comparing lesional and unaffected skin. We also assessed functionality of the T cells by evaluating the secretion of several inflammatory cytokines (IL-17A, IFN-gamma, IL-2, IL-33, TNF-alpha, IL-21, IL-22, and IL-27), from cell-sorted purified CD4+ and CD8+ T cells isolated from lesional and unaffected skin biopsies of psoriasis patients.
Principal Findings
We observed that the frequency of CD57+CD4+ and CD57+CD8+ T cells was significantly higher in unaffected skin of psoriasis patients compared to lesional skin. Sorted CD4+ T cells from psoriatic lesional skin produced higher levels of IL-17A, IL-22, and IFN-gamma compared to unaffected skin, while sorted CD8+ T cells from lesional skin produced higher levels of IL-17, IL-22, IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, and IL-2 compared to unaffected skin.
Conclusions/Significance
These findings suggest that T cells in unaffected skin from psoriasis patients exhibit a phenotype compatible with replicative inability. As they have a lower replicative capacity, CD57+ T cells are less frequent in lesional tissue due to the high cellular turnover.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052144
PMCID: PMC3585296  PMID: 23468834
10.  The effect of HIV infection and HAART on inflammatory biomarkers in a population-based cohort of US women 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(15):1823-1832.
Objective
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).
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283489d1f
PMCID: PMC3314300  PMID: 21572306
HIV; CD4+ T cells; cytokines; chemokines; HAART
11.  Seroconverting Blood Donors as a Resource for Characterising and Optimising Recent Infection Testing Algorithms for Incidence Estimation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20027.
Introduction
Biomarker-based cross-sectional incidence estimation requires a Recent Infection Testing Algorithm (RITA) with an adequately large mean recency duration, to achieve reasonable survey counts, and a low false-recent rate, to minimise exposure to further bias and imprecision. Estimating these characteristics requires specimens from individuals with well-known seroconversion dates or confirmed long-standing infection. Specimens with well-known seroconversion dates are typically rare and precious, presenting a bottleneck in the development of RITAs.
Methods
The mean recency duration and a ‘false-recent rate’ are estimated from data on seroconverting blood donors. Within an idealised model for the dynamics of false-recent results, blood donor specimens were used to characterise RITAs by a new method that maximises the likelihood of cohort-level recency classifications, rather than modelling individual sojourn times in recency.
Results
For a range of assumptions about the false-recent results (0% to 20% of biomarker response curves failing to reach the threshold distinguishing test-recent and test-non-recent infection), the mean recency duration of the Vironostika-LS ranged from 154 (95% CI: 96–231) to 274 (95% CI: 234–313) days in the South African donor population (n = 282), and from 145 (95% CI: 67–226) to 252 (95% CI: 194–308) days in the American donor population (n = 106). The significance of gender and clade on performance was rejected (p−value = 10%), and utility in incidence estimation appeared comparable to that of a BED-like RITA. Assessment of the Vitros-LS (n = 108) suggested potentially high false-recent rates.
Discussion
The new method facilitates RITA characterisation using widely available specimens that were previously overlooked, at the cost of possible artefacts. While accuracy and precision are insufficient to provide estimates suitable for incidence surveillance, a low-cost approach for preliminary assessments of new RITAs has been demonstrated. The Vironostika-LS and Vitros-LS warrant further analysis to provide greater precision of estimates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020027
PMCID: PMC3111407  PMID: 21694760
12.  MIG and the Regulatory Cytokines IL-10 and TGF-β1 Correlate with Malaria Vaccine Immunogenicity and Efficacy 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12557.
Malaria remains one of the world's greatest killers and a vaccine is urgently required. There are no established correlates of protection against malaria either for natural immunity to the disease or for immunity conferred by candidate malaria vaccines. The RTS,S/AS02A vaccine offers significant partial efficacy against malaria.
mRNA expression of five key cytokines interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), monokine induced by gamma (MIG), interleukin-10 (IL-10), transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and forkhead box P3 (FoxP3) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells were measured by real-time RT-PCR before and after vaccination with RTS,S/AS02A and Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara encoding the circumsporozoite protein (MVA-CS) in healthy malaria-naïve adult volunteers. The only significant change was in IFN-γ mRNA expression, which was increased seven days after vaccination (P = 0.04). Expression of MIG mRNA seven days after vaccination correlated inversely with time to detection of parasites by blood film in an experimental sporozoite challenge (r = 0.94 P = 0.005). An inverse relationship was seen between both TGF-β1 and IL-10 mRNA at baseline and the anti-circumsporozoite IgG antibody response (r = −0.644 P = 0.022 and r = −0.554 P = 0.031 respectively). This study demonstrates the potential for MIG expression as a correlate of protection against malaria. Baseline levels of the regulatory cytokines TGF-β and IL-10 inversely correlated with antibody levels post vaccination and warrant further studies to improve understanding of individual differences in response to vaccination.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012557
PMCID: PMC2933226  PMID: 20838432
13.  Independent assessment of candidate HIV incidence assays on specimens in the CEPHIA repository 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(16):2439-2449.
Objective:
Cross-sectional HIV incidence surveillance, using assays that distinguish ‘recent’ from ‘nonrecent’ infections, has been hampered by inadequate performance and characterization of incidence assays. In this study, the Consortium for the Evaluation and Performance of HIV Incidence Assays presents results of the first independent evaluation of five incidence assays (BED, Limiting Antigen Avidity, Less-sensitive Vitros, Vitros Avidity and BioRad Avidity).
Design:
A large repository of diverse specimens from HIV-positive patients was established, multiple assays were run on 2500 selected specimens, and data were analyzed to estimate assay characteristics relevant for incidence surveillance.
Methods:
The mean duration of recent infection (MDRI, average time ‘recent’ while infected for less than some time cut-off T) was estimated from longitudinal data on seroconverters by regression. The false-recent rate (FRR, probability of testing ‘recent’ when infected for longer than T) was explored by measuring the proportions of ‘recent’ results in various subsets of patients.
Results:
Assays continue to fail to attain the simultaneously large MDRI and small FRR demanded by existing performance guidelines. All assays produce high FRRs amongst virally suppressed patients (>40%), including elite controllers and treated patients.
Conclusions:
Results from this first independent evaluation provide valuable information about the current performance of assays, and suggest the need for further optimization. Variation of ‘recent’/‘nonrecent’ thresholds and the use of multiple antibody-maturation assays, as well as other biomarkers, can now be explored, using the rich data generated by the Consortium for the Evaluation and Performance of HIV Incidence Assays. Consistently high FRRs amongst those virally suppressed suggest that viral load will be a particularly valuable supplementary marker.
Video abstract:
doi:10.1097/QAD.0000000000000429
PMCID: PMC4210690  PMID: 25144218
biomarkers; HIV; incidence assays; incidence estimation; recent infection

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