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1.  GB virus C particles inhibit T cell activation via envelope E2 protein-mediated inhibition of T cell receptor signaling 
Viruses enter into complex interactions within human hosts leading to facilitation or suppression of each other's replication. Upon coinfection, GB virus C (GBV-C) suppresses HIV-1 replication in vivo and in vitro, and GBV-C coinfection is associated with prolonged survival in HIV-infected people. GBV-C is a lymphotropic virus capable of persistent infection. GBV-C infection is associated with reduced T cell activation in HIV-infected humans, and immune activation is a critical component of HIV disease pathogenesis. We demonstrate that serum GBV-C particles inhibited activation of primary human T cells. T cell activation inhibition was mediated by the envelope glycoprotein E2, as expression of E2 inhibited T cell receptor (TCR)-mediated activation of tyrosine kinase (Lck). The region on the E2 protein was characterized and revealed a highly conserved peptide motif sufficient to inhibit TCR-mediated signaling. The E2 region contained a predicted Lck substrate site, and substitution of an alanine or histidine for the tyrosine reversed TCR signaling inhibition. GBV-C E2 protein and a synthetic peptide representing the inhibitory amino acid sequence were phosphorylated by Lck in vitro. The synthetic peptide also inhibited TCR-mediated activation of primary human CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Extracellular microvesicles from GBV-C E2-expressing cells contained E2 protein and inhibited TCR signaling in bystander T cells not expressing E2. Thus, GBV-C reduced global T cell activation via competition between its envelope protein E2 and Lck following TCR engagement. This novel inhibitory mechanism of T cell activation may provide new approaches for HIV and immunoactivation therapy.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1300589
PMCID: PMC3965330  PMID: 23686495
HIV; GBV-C; T cell activation; TCR; Envelope glycoprotein
2.  Treatment-related changes in serum lipids and inflammation: clinical relevance remains unclear. Analyses from the Women's Interagency HIV Study 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(9):1516-1519.
Summary
Among 127 HIV-infected women, the magnitude of HDLc increases after HAART initiation predicted the magnitude of concurrent decreases in inflammation biomarkers. After HAART initiation, changes in LDLc and inflammation were unrelated. In the same population, predicted risk of coronary heart disease based upon levels of standard clinical risk factors was similar before and after HAART treatment. Thus, it remains unknown whether short-term treatment-related changes in standard risk factors may appreciably change risk of CVD.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e32835fd8a9
PMCID: PMC3909663  PMID: 23435295
lipids; HAART; HIV infection; inflammation
3.  Comparison of Lower Genital Tract Microbiota in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Women from Rwanda and the US 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96844.
Introduction
Previous studies have shown that alterations of the bacterial microbiota in the lower female genital tract influence susceptibility to HIV infection and shedding. We assessed geographic differences in types of genital microbiota between HIV-infected and uninfected women from Rwanda and the United States.
Methods
Genera of lower genital tract bacterial microbiota were identified by high-throughput pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene from 46 US women (36 HIV-infected, 10 HIV-uninfected) and 40 Rwandan women (18 HIV-infected, 22 HIV-uninfected) with similar proportions of low (0–3) Nugent scores. Species of Lactobacillus were identified by assembling sequences along with reference sequences into phylogenetic trees. Prevalence of genera and Lactobacillus species were compared using Fisher's exact tests.
Results
Overall the seven most prevalent genera were Lactobacillus (74%), Prevotella (56%), Gardnerella (55%), Atopobium (42%), Sneathia (37%), Megasphaera (30%), and Parvimonas (26%), observed at similar prevalences comparing Rwandan to US women, except for Megasphaera (20% vs. 39%, p = 0.06). Additionally, Rwandan women had higher frequencies of Mycoplasma (23% vs. 7%, p = 0.06) and Eggerthella (13% vs. 0%, p = 0.02), and lower frequencies of Lachnobacterium (8% vs. 35%, p<0.01) and Allisonella (5% vs. 30%, p<0.01), compared with US women. The prevalence of Mycoplasma was highest (p<0.05) in HIV-infected Rwandan women (39%), compared to HIV-infected US women (6%), HIV-uninfected Rwandan (9%) and US (10%) women. The most prevalent lactobacillus species in both Rwandan and US women was L. iners (58% vs. 76%, p = 0.11), followed by L. crispatus (28% vs. 30%, p = 0.82), L. jensenii (20% vs. 24%, p = 0.80), L. gasseri (20% vs. 11%, p = 0.37) and L. vaginalis (20% vs. 7%, p = 0.10).
Discussion
We found similar prevalence of most major bacterial genera and Lactobacillus species in Rwandan and US women. Further work will be needed to establish whether observed differences differentially impact lower genital tract health or susceptibility to genital infections.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096844
PMCID: PMC4016010  PMID: 24817204
4.  Optimizing Viable Leukocyte Sampling from the Female Genital Tract for Clinical Trials: An International Multi-Site Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85675.
Background
Functional analysis of mononuclear leukocytes in the female genital mucosa is essential for understanding the immunologic effects of HIV vaccines and microbicides at the site of HIV exposure. However, the best female genital tract sampling technique is unclear.
Methods and Findings
We enrolled women from four sites in Africa and the US to compare three genital leukocyte sampling methods: cervicovaginal lavages (CVL), endocervical cytobrushes, and ectocervical biopsies. Absolute yields of mononuclear leukocyte subpopulations were determined by flow cytometric bead-based cell counting. Of the non-invasive sampling types, two combined sequential cytobrushes yielded significantly more viable mononuclear leukocytes than a CVL (p<0.0001). In a subsequent comparison, two cytobrushes yielded as many leukocytes (∼10,000) as one biopsy, with macrophages/monocytes being more prominent in cytobrushes and T lymphocytes in biopsies. Sample yields were consistent between sites. In a subgroup analysis, we observed significant reproducibility between replicate same-day biopsies (r = 0.89, p = 0.0123). Visible red blood cells in cytobrushes increased leukocyte yields more than three-fold (p = 0.0078), but did not change their subpopulation profile, indicating that these leukocytes were still largely derived from the mucosa and not peripheral blood. We also confirmed that many CD4+ T cells in the female genital tract express the α4β7 integrin, an HIV envelope-binding mucosal homing receptor.
Conclusions
CVL sampling recovered the lowest number of viable mononuclear leukocytes. Two cervical cytobrushes yielded comparable total numbers of viable leukocytes to one biopsy, but cytobrushes and biopsies were biased toward macrophages and T lymphocytes, respectively. Our study also established the feasibility of obtaining consistent flow cytometric analyses of isolated genital cells from four study sites in the US and Africa. These data represent an important step towards implementing mucosal cell sampling in international clinical trials of HIV prevention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085675
PMCID: PMC3893217  PMID: 24454917
5.  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.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2014.00060
PMCID: PMC3927311  PMID: 24600450
toll-like receptors; intestinal epithelial cells; food allergy; microbiota; probiotics; prebiotics; circadian rhythm
6.  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.
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e3282fd6df4
PMCID: PMC3863687  PMID: 18525258
antiretroviral therapy; HIV; latency; resting CD4+ T cells; valproic acid
7.  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.
Objective
We examined serum lipids in association with carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.09.035
PMCID: PMC3696584  PMID: 23089369
cardiovascular diseases; carotid arteries; HAART; HIV; lipids
8.  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.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis434
PMCID: PMC3501153  PMID: 22782948
9.  Potential cardiovascular disease risk markers among HIV-infected women initiating antiretroviral treatment 
Background
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).
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e31825b03be
PMCID: PMC3400505  PMID: 22592585
antiretroviral therapy; cardiovascular diseases; cytokines; hemostasis; HIV; inflammation
11.  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.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis276
PMCID: PMC3415890  PMID: 22492856
12.  Short Chain Fatty Acids Induce Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine Production Alone And In Combination With Toll-like Receptor Ligands 
Problem
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1111/j.1600-0897.2011.01089.x
PMCID: PMC3288536  PMID: 22059850
Short chain fatty acids; inflammation; bacterial vaginosis
13.  Hepatitis C Viremia Is Associated with Cytomegalovirus IgG Antibody Levels in HIV-Infected Women 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61973.
Background
Individuals with HIV infection exhibit high cytomegalovirus (CMV) IgG levels, but there are few data regarding the association of hepatitis C virus (HCV) with the immune response against CMV.
Methods
Associations of HCV with CMV seropositivity and CMV IgG levels were studied in 635 HIV-infected women, 187 of whom were HCV-seropositive, with adjustment in multivariable models for age, race/ethnicity, and HIV disease characteristics. Eighty one percent of the women reported receipt of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) prior to or at CMV testing.
Results
In adjusted models women with chronic HCV had higher CMV IgG levels than those without HCV RNA (β = 2.86, 95% CI:0.89 – 4.83; P = 0.004). The association of HCV RNA with CMV IgG differed by age (Pinteraction = 0.0007), with a strong association observed among women in the low and middle age tertiles (≤45.3 years of age; β = 6.21, 95% CI:3.30 – 9.11, P<0.0001) but not among women in the high age tertile. CMV IgG levels were not associated with non-invasive measures of liver disease, APRI and FIB-4, or with HCV RNA level and adjustment for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) IgG levels did not affect the association between HCV and CMV.
Conclusions
CMV IgG levels are higher in HCV/HIV co-infected women than in HIV mono-infected women. Further research on the association of HCV with CMV IgG is indicated because prior studies have found CMV IgG to be associated with morbidity and mortality in the general population and subclinical carotid artery disease in HIV-infected patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061973
PMCID: PMC3629158  PMID: 23613990
14.  Age-Associated Changes in Monocyte and Innate Immune Activation Markers Occur More Rapidly in HIV Infected Women 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55279.
Background
Aging is associated with immune dysfunction and the related development of conditions with an inflammatory pathogenesis. Some of these immune changes are also observed in HIV infection, but the interaction between immune changes with aging and HIV infection are unknown. Whilst sex differences in innate immunity are recognized, little research into innate immune aging has been performed on women.
Methods
This cross-sectional study of HIV positive and negative women used whole blood flow cytometric analysis to characterize monocyte and CD8+ T cell subsets. Plasma markers of innate immune activation were measured using standard ELISA-based assays.
Results
HIV positive women exhibited elevated plasma levels of the innate immune activation markers CXCL10 (p<0.001), soluble CD163 (sCD163, p = 0.001), sCD14 (p = 0.022), neopterin (p = 0.029) and an increased proportion of CD16+ monocytes (p = 0.009) compared to uninfected controls. Levels of the innate immune aging biomarkers sCD163 and the proportion of CD16+ monocytes were equivalent to those observed in HIV negative women aged 14.5 and 10.6 years older, respectively. CXCL10 increased with age at an accelerated rate in HIV positive women (p = 0.002) suggesting a synergistic effect between HIV and aging on innate immune activation. Multivariable modeling indicated that age-related increases in innate immune biomarkers CXCL10 and sCD163 are independent of senescent changes in CD8+ T lymphocytes.
Conclusions
Quantifying the impact of HIV on immune aging reveals that HIV infection in women confers the equivalent of a 10–14 year increase in the levels of innate immune aging markers. These changes may contribute to the increased risk of inflammatory age-related diseases in HIV positive women.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055279
PMCID: PMC3554695  PMID: 23365694
15.  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.
Objective
To assess associations between abacavir (ABC) use and systemic inflammation.
Design
Retrospective case-control study.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Discussion
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.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283389dfa
PMCID: PMC3514460  PMID: 20588104
HIV infection; inflammation; HAART; abacavir; cytokines
16.  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
17.  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.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-7-11
PMCID: PMC1481571  PMID: 16725038
18.  T cell activation predicts carotid artery stiffness among HIV-infected women 
Atherosclerosis  2011;217(1):207-213.
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Discussion
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.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.03.011
PMCID: PMC3139014  PMID: 21492857
19.  Preservation of Lymphocyte Immunophenotype and Proliferative Responses in Cryopreserved Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1-Infected Donors: Implications for Multicenter Clinical Trials 
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection results in impaired immune function that can be measured by changes in immunophenotypically defined lymphocyte subsets and other in vitro functional assays. These in vitro assays may also serve as early indicators of efficacy when new therapeutic strategies for HIV-1 infection are being evaluated. However, the use of in vitro assays of immune function in multicenter clinical trials has been hindered by their need to be performed on fresh specimens. We assessed the feasibility of using cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) for lymphocyte immunophenotyping and for lymphocyte proliferation at nine laboratories. In HIV-1-infected patients with moderate CD4+ lymphocyte loss, the procedures of density gradient isolation, cryopreservation, and thawing of PBMC resulted in significant loss of CD19+ B cells but no measurable loss of total T cells or CD4+ or CD8+ T cells. No significant changes were seen in CD28− CD95+ lymphocytes after cell isolation and cryopreservation. However, small decreases in HLA-DR+ CD38+ lymphocytes and of CD45RA+ CD62L+ were observed within both the CD4+ and CD8+ subsets. Fewer than 10% of those specimens that showed positive PBMC proliferative responses to mitogens or microbial antigens lost their responsiveness after cryopreservation. These results support the feasibility of cryopreserving PBMC for immunophenotyping and functional testing in multicenter AIDS clinical trials. However, small changes in selected lymphocyte subsets that may occur after PBMC isolation and cryopreservation will need to be assessed and considered in the design of each clinical trial.
PMCID: PMC95878  PMID: 10799445
20.  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.
doi:10.1128/CVI.05032-11
PMCID: PMC3147360  PMID: 21697338
21.  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.
Background
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.
Objective
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.
Method
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).
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e328340a270
PMCID: PMC3074174  PMID: 21124203
HIV-1; quasispecies; IL-7; transient HIV viremia; virus reservoir
22.  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.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00973-10
PMCID: PMC3019699  PMID: 21075899
23.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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]).
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1086/524848
PMCID: PMC3127259  PMID: 18177247
24.  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.
doi:10.1086/425582
PMCID: PMC3119045  PMID: 15529262
25.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions/Significance
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019560
PMCID: PMC3091877  PMID: 21572958

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