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1.  Regulation of Intestinal Immune Responses through TLR Activation: Implications for Pro- and Prebiotics 
The intestinal mucosa is constantly facing a high load of antigens including bacterial antigens derived from the microbiota and food. Despite this, the immune cells present in the gastrointestinal tract do not initiate a pro-inflammatory immune response. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are pattern recognition receptors expressed by various cells in the gastrointestinal tract, including intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) and resident immune cells in the lamina propria. Many diseases, including chronic intestinal inflammation (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), allergic gastroenteritis (e.g., eosinophilic gastroenteritis and allergic IBS), and infections are nowadays associated with a deregulated microbiota. The microbiota may directly interact with TLR. In addition, differences in intestinal TLR expression in health and disease may suggest that TLRs play an essential role in disease pathogenesis and may be novel targets for therapy. TLR signaling in the gut is involved in either maintaining intestinal homeostasis or the induction of an inflammatory response. This mini review provides an overview of the current knowledge regarding the contribution of intestinal epithelial TLR signaling in both tolerance induction or promoting intestinal inflammation, with a focus on food allergy. We will also highlight a potential role of the microbiota in regulating gut immune responses, especially through TLR activation.
PMCID: PMC3927311  PMID: 24600450
toll-like receptors; intestinal epithelial cells; food allergy; microbiota; probiotics; prebiotics; circadian rhythm
2.  Valproic acid without intensified antiviral therapy has limited impact on persistent HIV infection of resting CD4+ T cells 
AIDS (London, England)  2008;22(10):10.1097/QAD.0b013e3282fd6df4.
Valproic acid and intensified antiretroviral therapy may deplete resting CD4+ T-cell HIV infection. We tested the ability of valproic acid to deplete resting CD4+ T-cell infection in patients receiving standard antiretroviral therapy.
Resting CD4+ T-cell infection was measured in 11 stably aviremic volunteers twice prior to, and twice after Depakote ER 1000 mg was added to standard antiretroviral therapy. Resting CD4+ T-cell infection frequency was measured by outgrowth assay. Low-level viremia was quantitated by single copy plasma HIV RNA assay.
A decrease in resting CD4+ T-cell infection was observed in only four of the 11 patients. Levels of immune activation and HIV-specific T-cell response were low and stable. Valproic acid levels ranged from 26 to 96 μg/ml when measured near trough. Single copy assay was performed in nine patients. In three patients with depletion of resting CD4+ T-cell infection following valproic acid, single copy assay ranged from less than 1–5 copies/ml. Continuous low-level viremia was observed in three patients with stable resting CD4+ T-cell infection (24–87, 8–87, and 1–7 copies/ml respectively) in whom multiple samples were analyzed.
The prospective addition of valproic acid to stable antiretroviral therapy reduced the frequency of resting CD4+ T-cell infection in a minority of volunteers. In patients in whom resting CD4+ T-cell infection depletion was observed, viremia was rarely detectable by single copy assay.
PMCID: PMC3863687  PMID: 18525258
antiretroviral therapy; HIV; latency; resting CD4+ T cells; valproic acid
3.  Association of subclinical atherosclerosis with lipid levels amongst antiretroviral-treated and untreated HIV-infected women in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study 
Atherosclerosis  2012;225(2):408-411.
We examined serum lipids in association with carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women.
In 2003–4, among 1827 Women’s Interagency HIV Study participants, we measured CIMT and lipids (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-c], low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-c], total cholesterol [TC], non-HDL-c). A subset of 520 treated HIV-infected women had pre-1997 lipid measures. We used multivariable linear regression to examine associations between lipids and CIMT.
In HIV-uninfected women, higher TC, LDL-c and non-HDL-c were associated with increased CIMT. Among HIV-infected women, associations of lipids with CIMT were observed in treated but not untreated women. Among the HIV-infected women treated in 2003–4, CIMT was associated both with lipids measured a decade earlier in infection, and with late lipid measurements.
Among HIV-infected women, hyperlipidemia is most strongly associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in treated women. Among treated women, the association appeared strongest early in the disease course.
PMCID: PMC3696584  PMID: 23089369
cardiovascular diseases; carotid arteries; HAART; HIV; lipids
4.  Baseline Levels of Soluble CD14 and CD16+56− Natural Killer Cells Are Negatively Associated With Response to Interferon/Ribavirin Therapy During HCV-HIV-1 Coinfection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(6):969-973.
Disease progression of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is associated with immune activation. Activation indices are higher during coinfection of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV. The effect of immune activation on interferon α (IFN-α) therapy response is unknown. We evaluated soluble CD14 (sCD14) and natural killer (NK)–cell subsets at baseline, and during pegIFN-α2a/ribavirin therapy in HCV-HIV coinfection. The sCD14 level increased during therapy. Baseline sCD14 positively correlated with baseline HCV level and CD16+56− NK-cell frequency, and both sCD14 and CD16+56− NK cells correlated negatively with magnitude of HCV decline. IL28B genotype was associated with therapy response but not sCD14 or CD16+56− NK frequency. Markers of innate immune activation predict poor host response to IFN-α–based HCV therapy during HCV-HIV coinfection.
PMCID: PMC3501153  PMID: 22782948
5.  Potential cardiovascular disease risk markers among HIV-infected women initiating antiretroviral treatment 
Inflammation and hemostasis perturbation may be involved in vascular complications of HIV infection. We examined atherogenic biomarkers and subclinical atherosclerosis in HIV-infected adults before and after beginning highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
In the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), 127 HIV-infected women studied pre- and post-HAART were matched to HIV-uninfected controls. Six semi-annual measurements of soluble CD14, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, soluble interleukin (IL)-2 receptor, IL-6, IL-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, D-dimer, and fibrinogen were obtained. Carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) was measured by B-mode ultrasound.
Relative to HIV-uninfected controls, HAART-naïve HIV-infected women had elevated levels of soluble CD14 (1945 vs 1662 ng/mL, Wilcoxon signed rank P<0.0001), TNF-alpha (6.3 vs 3.4 pg/mL, P<0.0001), soluble IL-2 receptor (1587 vs 949 pg/mL, P<0.0001), IL-10 (3.3 vs 1.9 pg/mL, P<0.0001), MCP-1 (190 vs 163 pg/mL, P<0.0001) and D-dimer (0.43 vs 0.31 µg/mL, P<0.01). Elevated biomarker levels declined after HAART. While most biomarkers normalized to HIV-uninfected levels, in women on effective HAART, TNF-alpha levels remained elevated compared to HIV-uninfected women (+0.8 pg/mL, P=0.0002). Higher post-HAART levels of soluble IL-2 receptor (P=0.02), IL-6 (P=0.05), and D-dimer (P=0.03) were associated with increased CIMT.
Untreated HIV infection is associated with abnormal hemostasis (e.g., D-dimer), and pro-atherogenic (e.g., TNF-alpha) and anti-atherogenic (e.g., IL-10) inflammatory markers. HAART reduces most inflammatory mediators to HIV-uninfected levels. Increased inflammation and hemostasis are associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in recently treated women. These findings have potential implications for long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected patients, even with effective therapy.
PMCID: PMC3400505  PMID: 22592585
antiretroviral therapy; cardiovascular diseases; cytokines; hemostasis; HIV; inflammation
6.  Cytomegalovirus Immunoglobulin G Antibody Is Associated With Subclinical Carotid Artery Disease Among HIV-Infected Women 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;205(12):1788-1796.
Background. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection has been implicated in immune activation and accelerated progression of immunodeficiency from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfection. We hypothesized that CMV is associated with vascular disease in HIV-infected adults.
Methods. In the Women's Interagency HIV Study, we studied 601 HIV-infected and 90 HIV-uninfected participants. We assessed the association of CMV immunoglobulin G (IgG) level with carotid artery intima-media thickness, carotid artery distensibility, Young's elastic modulus, and blood pressures. Multivariable models adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, smoking, diabetes, and body mass index.
Results. Mean CMV IgG levels were higher in HIV-infected women compared with HIV-uninfected women (P < .01). Among HIV-infected women, higher CMV IgG level was associated with decreased carotid artery distensibility (P < .01) and increased Young's modulus (P = .02). Higher CMV IgG antibody level was associated with increased prevalence of carotid artery lesions among HIV-infected women who achieved HIV suppression on antiretroviral therapy, but not among viremic or untreated HIV-infected women. Adjustment for Epstein–Barr virus antibody levels and C-reactive protein levels had no effect on the associations between CMV IgG levels and vascular parameters.
Conclusions. Cytomegalovirus antibody titers are increased in HIV-infected women and associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease. Host responses to CMV may be abnormal in HIV infection and associated with clinical disease.
PMCID: PMC3415890  PMID: 22492856
7.  Short Chain Fatty Acids Induce Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine Production Alone And In Combination With Toll-like Receptor Ligands 
Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), produced at relatively high levels by anaerobic bacteria in bacterial vaginosis (BV), are believed to be anti-inflammatory. BV, a common alteration of the genital microbiota associated with increased susceptibility to HIV infection, is characterized by increased levels of both pro-inflammatory cytokines and SCFAs. We investigated how SCFAs alone or together with TLR-ligands affected pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion.
Method of study
Cytokines were measured by ELISA. Flow was used for phenotyping and reactive oxygen species (ROS) measurement.
SCFAs, at 20mM, induced IL-8, IL-6, and IL-1β release while lower levels (0.02–2mM) did not induce cytokine secretion. Levels >20mM were toxic to cells. Interestingly, lower levels of SCFAs significantly enhanced TLR2 ligand- and TLR7 ligand-induced production of IL-8 and TNFα in a time- and dose-dependent manner, but had little effect on LPS-induced cytokine release. SCFAs mediated their effects on pro-inflammatory cytokine production at least in part by inducing generation of reactive oxygen species.
Our data suggest that SCFAs, especially when combined with specific TLR ligands, contribute to a pro-inflammatory milieu in the lower genital tract and help further our understanding of how BV affects susceptibility to microbial infections.
PMCID: PMC3288536  PMID: 22059850
Short chain fatty acids; inflammation; bacterial vaginosis
8.  VACUTAINER® CPT™ and Ficoll density gradient separation perform equivalently in maintaining the quality and function of PBMC from HIV seropositive blood samples 
BMC Immunology  2006;7:11.
For immune monitoring studies during HIV vaccine clinical trials, whole blood specimens from HIV seropositive (HIV+) patients may be collected at multiple sites and sent to a central location for peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) isolation, cryopreservation and functional evaluation. In this study we show a comparison of two PBMC preparation options, Ficoll density gradient separation (Ficoll) and Cell Preparation Tubes (CPT) using shipped whole blood specimens from 19 HIV+ patients (CD4 > 350, viral load < 50). The pre- and post- cryopreservation performance of samples collected by these two methods were compared by assessment of antigen-specific IFNγ expression in CD8+ and CD8- T cells, cellular viability, and cellular recovery.
The results indicate that cryopreserved PBMC samples tested for CMV- and HIV- specific interferon-gamma (IFNγ) expression performed equivalent to the respective fresh PBMC processed under both collection conditions. Compared to fresh PBMC, the viability was significantly lower for cryopreserved PBMC derived using Ficoll, although it was never less than 90%. There were no significant differences in the IFNγ response, viability, or recovery between cryopreserved PBMC derived by Ficoll and by CPT.
These data suggest that CPT is an efficient system for the collection and cryopreservation of functionally active HIV+ PBMC, as well as a viable alternative to Ficoll gradient separation.
PMCID: PMC1481571  PMID: 16725038
9.  Inflammatory Biomarkers and Abacavir Use in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study 
AIDS (London, England)  2010;24(11):1657-1665.
To assess associations between abacavir (ABC) use and systemic inflammation.
Retrospective case-control study.
MACS & WIHS cohort participants who initiated ABC were matched, using propensity score methods, to ABC-unexposed persons. Levels of hsCRP(μg/mL), IL-6(pg/mL), and D-dimer (μg/mL) were measured from pre-HAART and on-HAART plasma. Random-effects models compared markers by ABC exposure and by changes from pre-HAART levels.
Biomarkers were measured in N=508 matched pairs (328 women; 180 men). Pre-HAART levels did not differ by exposure group except that hsCRP levels were higher among WIHS women who subsequently used ABC (p=0.04). Regardless of ABC use, mean hsCRP increases and D-dimer reductions were seen when comparing pre- to on-HAART levels, in the overall group (28% and -27%), for MACS men (28% and -31%) and for WIHS women (29% and -24% (p<0.01 for all); IL-6 levels declined in MACS men (p=0.02). No adjusted biomarker level differences existed by ABC exposure at the on-HAART visit. HIV RNA reductions correlated with D-dimer (r = 0.14, p < 0.01) and IL-6 (r = 0.12, p < 0.01) reductions. Associations between ABC use and mean biomarker levels were modified by pre-HAART ART experience. Renal dysfunction was equally likely among non-ABC and ABC recipients.
ABC use was not associated with plasma elevations in hsCRP, IL-6 and d-dimer. Mechanisms other than increased systemic inflammation may account for ABC’s reported association with increased cardiovascular disease. HAART -associated reductions in D-dimer and IL-6 were apparent regardless of ABC use and were correlated with HIV RNA reductions.
PMCID: PMC3514460  PMID: 20588104
HIV infection; inflammation; HAART; abacavir; cytokines
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3314300  PMID: 21572306
HIV; CD4+ T cells; cytokines; chemokines; HAART
11.  T cell activation predicts carotid artery stiffness among HIV-infected women 
Atherosclerosis  2011;217(1):207-213.
HIV disease is associated with increased arterial stiffness, which may be related to inflammation provoked by HIV-related immune perturbation. We assessed the association of T cell markers of immune activation and immunosenescence with carotid artery stiffness among HIV-infected women.
Among 114 HIV-infected and 43 HIV-uninfected women, we measured CD4+ and CD8+ T cell populations expressing activation (CD38+HLA-DR+) and senescence (CD28-CD57+) markers. We then related these measures of immune status with parameters of carotid artery stiffness, including decreased distensibility, and increased Young’s elastic modulus, as assessed by B-mode ultrasound.
HIV infection was associated with increased CD4+ T cell activation, CD8+ T cell activation and CD8+ T cell senescence. Among HIV-infected women, adjusted for age, HIV medications, and vascular risk factors, higher CD4+CD38+HLA-DR+ T cell frequency was associated with decreased carotid artery distensibility (β= −2.00, 95% confidence interval [CI]= −3.86,−0.14, P=0.04) and increased Young’s modulus (β=1.00, 95% CI=0.03,1.97, P=0.04). These associations were affected little by further adjustment for CD4+ T cell count and viral load. Among HIV-infected women, higher frequencies of immunosenescent T cells, including CD4+CD28-CD57+ and CD8+CD28-CD57+ T cells, were also associated with decreased arterial distensibility. Among HIV-uninfected women, frequencies of activated or senescent T cells were not significantly associated with measures of carotid stiffness.
T cell activation and senescence are associated with arterial stiffness, suggesting that pro-inflammatory populations of T cells may produce functional or structural vascular changes in HIV-infected women.
PMCID: PMC3139014  PMID: 21492857
12.  Multisite Comparison of High-Sensitivity Multiplex Cytokine Assays▿† 
The concentrations of cytokines in human serum and plasma can provide valuable information about in vivo immune status, but low concentrations often require high-sensitivity assays to permit detection. The recent development of multiplex assays, which can measure multiple cytokines in one small sample, holds great promise, especially for studies in which limited volumes of stored serum or plasma are available. Four high-sensitivity cytokine multiplex assays on a Luminex (Bio-Rad, BioSource, Linco) or electrochemiluminescence (Meso Scale Discovery) platform were evaluated for their ability to detect circulating concentrations of 13 cytokines, as well as for laboratory and lot variability. Assays were performed in six different laboratories utilizing archived serum from HIV-uninfected and -infected subjects from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) and the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) and commercial plasma samples spanning initial HIV viremia. In a majority of serum samples, interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-8, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor alpha were detectable with at least three kits, while IL-1β was clearly detected with only one kit. No single multiplex panel detected all cytokines, and there were highly significant differences (P < 0.001) between laboratories and/or lots with all kits. Nevertheless, the kits generally detected similar patterns of cytokine perturbation during primary HIV viremia. This multisite comparison suggests that current multiplex assays vary in their ability to measure serum and/or plasma concentrations of cytokines and may not be sufficiently reproducible for repeated determinations over a long-term study or in multiple laboratories but may be useful for longitudinal studies in which relative, rather than absolute, changes in cytokines are important.
PMCID: PMC3147360  PMID: 21697338
13.  HIV-1 viruses detected during episodic blips following IL-7 administration are similar to the viruses present before and after IL-7 therapy 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(2):159-164.
Administration of recombinant human (rh) interleukin (IL)-7 leads to CD4 and CD8 T cell expansions in HIV-infected individuals, demonstrating promising capacity for immune reconstitution. However, a proportion of patients treated with rhIL-7 experience transient increases in plasma HIV-RNA (“blips”), possibly reflecting “purging” of a quiescent reservoir that provides a barrier to viral eradication.
To identify the sources of HIV detected during transient viremic episodes following IL-7 administration, viral quasispecies were analyzed in a total of 281 primary sequences derived from 7 patients who experienced the episodic blips following IL-7 therapy.
The C2-V3 region of the HIV-1 env gene were sequenced from HIV-1 RNA in plasma and HIV DNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained at baseline (day 0 of rhIL-7 therapy), during the episode of viral blips (day 4), and at a time when levels of plasma HIV-RNA had returned to less than 50 copies/ml (day 28).
The HIV sequences detected during transient viremia following IL-7 administration were closely related to those of the plasma viruses present before and after cytokine administration. All virus quasispecies detected during blips were also present in proviral sequences in PBMCs.
The low level viremia induced by IL-7 likely reflects predominantly transient induction or release of virus from a pre-existing pool rather than activation of silent quasispecies.
PMCID: PMC3074174  PMID: 21124203
HIV-1; quasispecies; IL-7; transient HIV viremia; virus reservoir
15.  Pyrosequencing of the Genital Microbiotas of HIV-Seropositive and -Seronegative Women Reveals Lactobacillus iners as the Predominant Lactobacillus Species▿  
The species of vaginal lactobacilli in HIV-seropositive and -seronegative women were determined by 16S gene pyrosequencing. Lactobacillus iners sequences were the predominant lactobacillus sequences in 66% of HIV+ women and 90% of HIV− women. This has implications for resistance of HIV+ and HIV− women to genital colonization by pathogenic organisms.
PMCID: PMC3019699  PMID: 21075899
16.  Associations of Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF)–I and IGF-Binding Protein–3 with HIV Disease Progression in Women 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2008;197(2):319-327.
The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis has been hypothesized to influence the rate of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease progression. This premise is based largely on laboratory models showing that IGF-I stimulates thymic growth and increases lymphocyte numbers and that IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)–3 has an opposing effect, inhibiting hematopoietic stem cell development.
We studied 1422 HIV-infected women enrolled in a large cohort that entailed semiannual follow-up (initiated in 1994). Baseline serum samples were tested for IGF-I and IGFBP-3 to determine their associations with incident clinical acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and CD4+ T cell count decline prior to April 1996 (before the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy [HAART]).
Low IGF-I levels (Ptrend = .02) and high IGFBP-3 levels (Ptrend = .02) were associated with rapid CD4+ T cell count decline. Only IGFBP-3, however, was significantly associated with AIDS incidence (hazard ratio for highest vs. lowest quartile, 2.65 [95% confidence interval, 1.30–5.42]; Ptrend = .02) in multivariable models.
These findings suggest that serum levels of IGFBP-3 (and possibly IGF-I) are associated with the rate of HIV disease progression in women and, more broadly, that interindividual heterogeneity in the IGF axis may influence HIV pathogenesis. If correct, the IGF axis could be a target for interventions to slow HIV disease progression and extend the time before use of HAART becomes necessary.
PMCID: PMC3127259  PMID: 18177247
17.  Women with Cervicovaginal Antibody-Dependent Cell-Mediated Cytotoxicity Have Lower Genital HIV-1 RNA Loads 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2004;190(11):1970-1978.
Antibodies that mediate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) are present in the cervical fluid of many HIV-positive women; however, the role that these antibodies play in host defense against HIV is not known. To understand the contribution of ADCC in cervical secretions as a protective mechanism against HIV, we evaluated ADCC titers in paired serum and cervical-lavage (CVL) samples from >300 HIV-1–positive women who participated in the multicenter Division of AIDS Treatment Research Initiative Study 009. The present study demonstrates that women with CVL ADCC activity had lower genital viral loads than did women with serum ADCC activity only. Women with CVL ADCC activity were likely to have HIV-1 gp120–specific immunoglobulin (Ig) G, but not IgA, in their cervical fluid. This finding suggests that specific IgG in cervical fluid can mediate ADCC activity that inversely correlates with genital viral load.
PMCID: PMC3119045  PMID: 15529262
18.  Multiplex Immunoassay of Lower Genital Tract Mucosal Fluid from Women Attending an Urban STD Clinic Shows Broadly Increased IL1ß and Lactoferrin 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19560.
More than one million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur each day. The immune responses and inflammation induced by STDs and other frequent non-STD microbial colonizations (i.e. Candida and bacterial vaginosis) can have serious pathologic consequences in women including adverse pregnancy outcomes, infertility and increased susceptibility to infection by other pathogens. Understanding the types of immune mediators that are elicited in the lower genital tract by these infections/colonizations can give important insights into the innate and adaptive immune pathways that are activated and lead to strategies for preventing pathologic effects.
Methodology/Principal Findings
32 immune mediators were measured by multiplexed immunoassays to assess the immune environment of the lower genital tract mucosa in 84 women attending an urban STD clinic. IL-3, IL-1ß, VEGF, angiogenin, IL-8, ß2Defensin and ß3Defensin were detected in all subjects, Interferon-α was detected in none, while the remaining mediators were detected in 40% to 93% of subjects. Angiogenin, VEGF, FGF, IL-9, IL-7, lymphotoxin-α and IL-3 had not been previously reported in genital mucosal fluid from women. Strong correlations were observed between levels of TNF-α, IL-1ß and IL-6, between chemokines IP-10 and MIG and between myeloperoxidase, IL-8 and G-CSF. Samples from women with any STD/colonization had significantly higher levels of IL-8, IL-3, IL-7, IL-1ß, lactoferrin and myeloperoxidase. IL-1ß and lactoferrin were significantly increased in gonorrhea, Chlamydia, cervicitis, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis.
These studies show that mucosal fluid in general appears to be an environment that is rich in immune mediators. Importantly, IL-1ß and lactoferrin are biomarkers for STDs/colonizations providing insights into immune responses and pathogenesis at this mucosal site.
PMCID: PMC3091877  PMID: 21572958
19.  Comparison of Immunologic Assays for Detecting Immune Responses in HIV Immunotherapeutic Studies: AIDS Clinical Trials Group Trial A5181▿  
This study was designed to evaluate which of several T-cell-specific, immune response assays are the most relevant in measuring the key characteristics of an effective immune response to HIV-1. Using 5 HIV-1 antigens as stimulants, we assessed lymphocyte proliferation, supernatant gamma interferon (IFN-γ) cytokine production (CP), single-cell IFN-γ production by enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay, with and without Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B-lymphoblastoid cell lines (B-LCLs), and intracellular cytokine production (ICC) for IFN-γ and interleukin 2 (IL-2) by flow cytometry. We used these to compare specimens from HIV-1-infected subjects who were virally suppressed with a stable antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimen (group A) with specimens from subjects not on ART but with HIV-1 viremia of <3,000 copies/ml (group B). The lymphocyte proliferation assay (LPA) did not significantly differentiate between the two groups. Using fresh peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), the CP and ELISPOT assays for IFN-γ detected the greatest differences between the two groups, specific for three of the five HIV-1 antigens, whereas significant differences were seen only in response to one antigen when cryopreserved cells were used. The strongest correlations were seen between the CP and ELISPOT assays. The ELISPOT B-LCL assay showed a cell concentration-dependent increase in IFN-γ production compared to that shown by the standard ELISPOT assay but did not differentiate between the groups. In the ICC assay, greater numbers of IFN-γ-producing T cells were seen in group B, and little or no detectable IL-2 production was seen in both groups. These studies highlight complexities of immunologic monitoring of T-cell responses in multisite clinical trials in HIV infection and outline considerations for optimizing these efforts.
PMCID: PMC2944467  PMID: 20631337
20.  Biomarkers of immune dysfunction in HIV 
Current opinion in HIV and AIDS  2010;5(6):498-503.
Purpose of review
HIV infection is characterized by chronic immune system activation and inflammatory cytokine production. This review will highlight recent developments using plasma and cellular biomarkers of immune system activation and dysfunction to predict mortality and opportunistic disease in HIV-infected individuals.
Recent findings
HIV infection results in features characteristic of early aging of the immune system or ‘immune senescence’, driven by chronic antigen exposure and immune system activation. Microbial translocation of gut bacterial components is associated with chronic immune activation and possibly systemic inflammation. Antiretroviral therapy may not fully normalize this condition. Baseline elevations of certain biomarkers of inflammation or coagulopathy, notably interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and d-dimer, have been associated with mortality or opportunistic disease, after adjustment for appropriate variables, in several large randomized clinical trials. It is not known if elevated IL-6 or CRP causes this morbidity and mortality or if they are simply surrogate markers of a global inflammatory state.
Several inflammatory biomarkers appear to add to our ability to predict mortality or opportunistic disease in HIV-infected individuals. Before biomarkers will be useful, it will be necessary to identify interventions that moderate biomarker levels, and then determine if this moderation attenuates disease outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3032605  PMID: 20978393
biomarker; C-reactive protein; d-dimer; HIV; immune activation; immune senescence; interleukin-6
21.  Identification of Rhesus Macaque Genital Microbiota by 16S Pyrosequencing Shows Similarities to Human Bacterial Vaginosis: Implications for Use as an Animal Model for HIV Vaginal Infection 
The composition of the lower genital tract microbiota in women is believed to affect the risk of sexually acquiring HIV. Since macaque genital microbiota could similarly impact vaginal infection with SIV we identified microbiota in 11 rhesus macaques using multitag pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. The microbiota was polymicrobial with a median of nine distinct bacterial taxa per macaque (range 3–16 taxa, each constituting 1% or more of the sequences). Taxa frequently found included Peptoniphilus, Sneathia, Porphyromonas, Mobiluncus, Atopobacter, Dialister, Thioreductor, Prevotella, and Streptococcus, many of which are also frequently found in women with bacterial vaginosis. Lactobacillus sequences (mostly L. johnsonii) were found in only four macaques but were not predominant in any (median of 0% of sequences, range 0–39%). All macaques were resampled 6 months after the first time point to determine the stability of the microbiota. The microbiota remained polymicrobial with a median of 10 taxa (range 6–18). Microbial patterns remained similar for six of the macaques, changed substantially in two, and had a mixed pattern in three. Significant sialidase enzyme activity, a marker of bacteria vaginosis in women, was detected in genital fluid from 9/11 and 8/11 macaques from the first and second time points, respectively. These results show that the macaque lower genital microbiota resembled a bacteria vaginosis-type microbiota in women and suggest that the microbiota of macaques in captivity promote rather than protect against vaginal infection with SIV. These results also suggest macaques could be used as an animal model to study some aspects of bacterial vaginosis.
PMCID: PMC2835387  PMID: 20156101
22.  A Low T Regulatory Cell Response May Contribute to Both Viral Control and Generalized Immune Activation in HIV Controllers 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15924.
HIV-infected individuals maintaining undetectable viremia in the absence of therapy (HIV controllers) often maintain high HIV-specific T cell responses, which has spurred the development of vaccines eliciting HIV-specific T cell responses. However, controllers also often have abnormally high T cell activation levels, potentially contributing to T cell dysfunction, CD4+ T cell depletion, and non-AIDS morbidity. We hypothesized that a weak T regulatory cell (Treg) response might contribute to the control of viral replication in HIV controllers, but might also contribute to generalized immune activation, contributing to CD4+ T cell loss. To address these hypotheses, we measured frequencies of activated (CD38+ HLA-DR+), regulatory (CD4+CD25+CD127dim), HIV-specific, and CMV-specific T cells among HIV controllers and 3 control populations: HIV-infected individuals with treatment-mediated viral suppression (ART-suppressed), untreated HIV-infected “non-controllers” with high levels of viremia, and HIV-uninfected individuals. Despite abnormally high T cell activation levels, controllers had lower Treg frequencies than HIV-uninfected controls (P = 0.014). Supporting the propensity for an unusually low Treg response to viral infection in HIV controllers, we observed unusually high CMV-specific CD4+ T cell frequencies and a strong correlation between HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses and generalized CD8+ T cell activation levels in HIV controllers (P≤0.001). These data support a model in which low frequencies of Tregs in HIV controllers may contribute to an effective adaptive immune response, but may also contribute to generalized immune activation, potentially contributing to CD4 depletion.
PMCID: PMC3031543  PMID: 21305005
23.  T Cell Activation and Senescence Predict Subclinical Carotid Artery Disease in HIV-Infected Women 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(4):452-463.
Background. Individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have increased risk of cardiovascular events. It is unknown whether T cell activation and senescence, 2 immunologic sequelae of HIV infection, are associated with vascular disease among HIV-infected adults.
Methods. T cell phenotyping and carotid ultrasound were assessed among 115 HIV-infected women and 43 age- and race/ethnicity-matched HIV-uninfected controls participating in the Women's Interagency HIV Study. Multivariate analyses were used to assess the association of T cell activation (CD38+HLA-DR+) and senescence (CD28−CD57+) with subclinical carotid artery disease.
Results. Compared with HIV-uninfected women, frequencies of CD4+CD38+HLA-DR+, CD8+CD38+HLA-DR+, and CD8+CD28−CD57+ T cells were higher among HIV-infected women, including those who achieved viral suppression while receiving antiretroviral treatment. Among HIV-infected women, adjusted for age, antiretroviral medications, and viral load, higher frequencies of activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and immunosenescent CD8+ T cells were associated with increased prevalence of carotid artery lesions (prevalence ratiolesions associated with activated CD4+ T cells, 1.6 per SD [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.1–2.2]; P = .02; prevalence ratiolesions associated with activated CD8+ T cells, 2.0 per SD [95% CI, 1.2–3.3]; P < .01; prevalence ratiolesions associated with senescent CD8+ T cells, 1.9 per SD [95% CI, 1.1–3.1]; P = .01).
Conclusions. HIV-associated T cell changes are associated with subclinical carotid artery abnormalities, which may be observed even among those patients achieving viral suppression with effective antiretroviral therapy.
PMCID: PMC3071219  PMID: 21220772
24.  Chloroquine Modulates HIV-1-Induced Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Alpha Interferon: Implication for T-Cell Activation▿  
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) contribute to antiviral immunity mainly through recognition of microbial products and viruses via intracellular Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) or TLR9, resulting in the production of type I interferons (IFNs). Although interferons reduce the viral burden in the acute phase of infection, their role in the chronic phase is unclear. The presence of elevated plasma IFN-α levels in advanced HIV disease and its association with microbial translocation in chronic HIV infection lead us to hypothesize that IFN-α could contribute to immune activation. Blocking of IFN-α production using chloroquine, an endosomal inhibitor, was tested in a novel in vitro model system with the aim of characterizing the effects of chloroquine on HIV-1-mediated TLR signaling, IFN-α production, and T-cell activation. Our results indicate that chloroquine blocks TLR-mediated activation of pDC and MyD88 signaling, as shown by decreases in the levels of the downstream signaling molecules IRAK-4 and IRF-7 and by inhibition of IFN-α synthesis. Chloroquine decreased CD8 T-cell activation induced by aldrithiol-2-treated HIV-1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures. In addition to blocking pDC activation, chloroquine also blocked negative modulators of the T-cell response, such as indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and programmed death ligand 1 (PDL-1). Our results indicate that TLR stimulation and production of IFN-α by pDC contribute to immune activation and that blocking of these pathways using chloroquine may interfere with events contributing to HIV pathogenesis. Our results suggests that a safe, well-tolerated drug such as chloroquine can be proposed as an adjuvant therapeutic candidate along with highly active antiretroviral therapy to control immune activation in HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC2812138  PMID: 19949061

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