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2.  Prevalence of transmitted HIV-1 antiretroviral resistance among patients initiating antiretroviral therapy in Brazil: a surveillance study using dried blood spots 
In Brazil, the use of antiretrovirals is widespread: more than 260,000 individuals are currently undergoing treatment. We conducted a survey targeting antiretroviral-naïve individuals who were initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) according to local guidelines. This survey covered five Brazilian regions.
The HIV Threshold Survey methodology (HIV-THS) of the World Health Organization was utilized, and subjects were selected from seven highly populated cities representative of all Brazilian macro-regions. Dried blood spots (DBS) were collected on SS903 collection cards and were transported by regular mail at room temperature to a single central laboratory for genotyping.
We analysed samples from 329 individuals initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), 39 (11.8%) of whom were harbouring transmitted drug resistance (TDR). The mean CD4+ T cell count was 253 cells/µL, and the mean viral load was 142,044 copies/mL. The regional prevalence of resistance was 17.0% in the Northeast, 12.8% in the Southeast, 10.6% in the Central region, 8.5% in the North and 8.5% in the South. The inhibitor-specific TDR prevalence was 6.9% for nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, 4.9% for non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and 3.9% for protease inhibitors; 3.6% of individuals presented resistance to more than one class of inhibitors. Overall, there were trends towards higher prevalences of subtype C towards the South and subtype F towards the North. Of the DBS samples collected, 9.3% failed to provide reliable results.
We identified variable TDR prevalence, ranging from intermediate to high levels, among individuals in whom HIV disease progressed, thus implying that resistance testing before initiating ART could be effective in Brazil. Our results also indicate that the use of DBS might be especially valuable for providing access to testing in resource-limited and remote settings.
PMCID: PMC4172689  PMID: 25249214
transmitted drug resistance; dried blood spots; Brazil; genotyping; antiretroviral therapy; HIV subtype
3.  Inhibitors of Urokinase Type Plasminogen Activator and Cytostatic Activity from Crude Plants Extracts 
Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)  2013;18(8):8945-8958.
In view of the clear evidence that urokinase type plasminogen activator (uPA) plays an important role in the processes of tumor cell metastasis, aortic aneurysm, and multiple sclerosis, it has become a target of choice for pharmacological intervention. The goal of this study was thus to determine the presence of inhibitors of uPA in plants known traditionally for their anti-tumor properties. Crude methanol extracts were prepared from the leaves of plants (14) collected from the subtropical dry forest (Guanica, Puerto Rico), and tested for the presence of inhibitors of uPA using the fibrin plate assay. The extracts that tested positive (6) were then partitioned with petroleum ether, chloroform, ethyl acetate and n-butanol, in a sequential manner. The resulting fractions were then tested again using the fibrin plate assay. Extracts from leaves of Croton lucidus (C. lucidus) showed the presence of a strong uPA inhibitory activity. Serial dilutions of these C. lucidus partitions were performed to determine the uPA inhibition IC50 values. The chloroform extract showed the lowest IC50 value (3.52 μg/mL) and hence contained the most potent uPA inhibitor. Further investigations revealed that the crude methanol extract and its chloroform and n-butanol partitions did not significantly inhibit closely related proteases such as the tissue type plasminogen activator (tPA) and plasmin, indicating their selectivity for uPA, and hence superior potential for medicinal use with fewer side effects. In a further evaluation of their therapeutic potential for prevention of cancer metastasis, the C. lucidus extracts displayed cytostatic activity against human pancreatic carcinoma (PaCa-2) cells, as determined through an MTS assay. The cytostatic activities recorded for each of the partitions correlated with their relative uPA inhibitory activities. There are no existing reports of uPA inhibitors being present in any of the plants reported in this study.
PMCID: PMC4034058  PMID: 23896619
urokinase type plasminogen activator (uPA); uPA inhibitor; fibrin plate assay; Croton lucidus; metastasis; cytostatic activity
4.  Analysis of HIV-1 Protease Gene Reveals Frequent Multiple Infections Followed by Recombination among Drug Treated Individuals Living in São Paulo and Santos, Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84066.
The present study investigated the prevalence of HIV-1 multiple infections in a population composed by 47 patients under HAART failure and enrolled at the National DST/AIDS, Program, Ministry of Health, Brazil.Detection of multiple infections was done using a previously published RFLP assay for the HIV-1 protease gene, which is able of distinguishing between infections caused by a single or multiple HIV-1 subtypes. Samples with multiple infections were cloned, and sequence data submitted to phylogenetic analysis. We were able to identify 17 HIV-1 multiple infections out of 47 samples. Multiple infections were mostly composed by a mixture of recombinant viruses (94%), with only one case in which protease gene pure subtypes B and F were recovered. This is the first study that reports the prevalence of multiple infections and intersubtype recombinants in a population undergoing HAART in Brazil. Based on the data there was a steep increase of multiple infections after the introduction of the combined antiretroviral therapy in Brazil. Cases of multiple infections may be associated with HIV-1 genetic diversity through recombination allowing for the generation of viruses showing a combination of resistance mutations.
PMCID: PMC3880281  PMID: 24404149
5.  Detection of lamivudine-resistant variants and mutations related to reduced antigenicity of HBsAg in individuals from the cities of Santos and São Paulo, Brazil 
Virology Journal  2013;10:320.
Continuous long-term treatment is recommended to reduce the hepatitis B virus (HBV) viral load. However, as a consequence, resistance mutations can emerge and be transmitted to other individuals. The polymerase (POL) gene overlaps the surface (S) gene. Thus, during treatment, mutations in the POL gene may lead to changes in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the frequency of lamivudine and vaccine escape mutations in HBsAg-positive blood donors from the city of Santos and in untreated HBV mono-infected patients from the city of São Paulo, Brazil.
HBV DNA was extracted from 80 serum samples, of which 61 were from volunteer blood donors and 19 were from untreated HBV patients. A fragment of the POL/S genes containing 593 base pairs was amplified using nested PCR. Thirty four were PCR-positive and sequencing was performed using an ABI Prism 3130 Genetic Analyzer. Alignments and mutation mapping were performed using BioEdit software.
HBV DNA from 21 blood donors and 13 untreated patient samples were characterized using nucleotide sequencing PCR products from the POL/S genes. We were able to detect one sample with the resistance mutation to lamivudine rtM204V + rtL180M (2.94%), which was found in a volunteer blood donor that has never used antiviral drugs. The other samples showed only compensatory mutations, such as rtL80F (5.88%), rtL80V (2.94%), rtL82V + rtV207L (2.94%), rtT128P (5.88%), rtT128N/S (2.94%) and rtS219A (5.88%). We found modifications in the S gene in 14 of the 34 samples (41.16%). The mutations detected were as follows: sM133L + sI195T (2.94%), sI195M (2.94%), sP120T (2.94%), sY100S/F (2.94%), sY100C (17.64%), sI/T126P + sQ129P (2.94%), sM198I + sF183C (2.94%) and sS210R (5.88%).
Our results suggest the transmission of lamivudine-resistant forms. Thus, the evaluation of HBV-infected subjects for lamivudine resistance would improve treatment regime. Moreover, the mutations in the S gene may impair HBsAg antigenicity and contribute to HBsAg failure detection and vaccine escape.
PMCID: PMC3898369  PMID: 24165277
HBV; Genotypes; Transmitted drug resistance; Lamivudine; Vaccine escape mutations; Polymerase gene; Surface gene; Surface antigen
7.  Codon pairs of the HIV-1 vif gene correlate with CD4+ T cell count 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:173.
The human APOBEC3G (A3G) protein activity is associated with innate immunity against HIV-1 by inducing high rates of guanosines to adenosines (G-to-A) mutations (viz., hypermutation) in the viral DNA. If hypermutation is not enough to disrupt the reading frames of viral genes, it may likely increase the HIV-1 diversity. To counteract host innate immunity HIV-1 encodes the Vif protein that binds A3G protein and form complexes to be degraded by cellular proteolysis.
Here we studied the pattern of substitutions in the vif gene and its association with clinical status of HIV-1 infected individuals. To perform the study, unique vif gene sequences were generated from 400 antiretroviral-naïve individuals.
The codon pairs: 78–154, 85–154, 101–157, 105–157, and 105–176 of vif gene were associated with CD4+ T cell count lower than 500 cells per mm3. Some of these codons were located in the 81LGQGVSIEW89 region and within the BC-Box. We also identified codons under positive selection clustered in the N-terminal region of Vif protein, between 21WKSLVK26 and 40YRHHY44 regions (i.e., 31, 33, 37, 39), within the BC-Box (i.e., 155, 159) and the Cullin5-Box (i.e., 168) of vif gene. All these regions are involved in the Vif-induced degradation of A3G/F complexes and the N-terminal of Vif protein binds to viral and cellular RNA.
Adaptive evolution of vif gene was mostly to optimize viral RNA binding and A3G/F recognition. Additionally, since there is not a fully resolved structure of the Vif protein, codon pairs associated with CD4+ T cell count may elucidate key regions that interact with host cell factors. Here we identified and discriminated codons under positive selection and codons under functional constraint in the vif gene of HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC3637627  PMID: 23578255
HIV-1; Epistasis; APOBEC; Vif; Hypermutation; Positive selection; Co-evolution
8.  HIV-1 Proviral DNA Loads (as Determined by Quantitative PCR) in Patients Subjected to Structured Treatment Interruption after Antiretroviral Therapy Failure 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(6):2132-2133.
The impact of Structured Treatment Interruption (STI) in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) proviral reservoirs in 41 highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-treated viremic individuals at baseline and 12 weeks after STI was determined using quantitative PCR (qPCR). Viral load increased 0.7 log10 and CD4 decreased 97.5 cells/mm3 after 12 weeks. A total of 28 of the 41 individuals showed an increased proviral load, 19 with a statistically significant increase above 10%. An increase in active viral replication is an important factor in the replenishment of the proviral reservoir even for short time periods.
PMCID: PMC3372152  PMID: 22422851
9.  Incidence of Recent Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection at Two Voluntary Counseling Testing Centers in Pernambuco, Brazil, from 2006 to 2009 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(6):2145-2146.
This study shows HIV-1 incidence in the northeastern region of Brazil, where the HIV epidemic has spread recently. Incidence was higher among men (1.34%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00% to 1.69%) than among women (0.55%; 95% CI, 0.43% to 0.68%) (P < 0.0001), and there was an association between younger age and recent HIV infection (P < 0.004).
PMCID: PMC3372162  PMID: 22403429
10.  Effect of Natural Polymorphisms in the HIV-1 CRF02_AG Protease on Protease Inhibitor Hypersusceptibility 
Hypersusceptibility (HS) to inhibition by different antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) among diverse HIV-infected individuals may be a misnomer because clinical response to treatment is evaluated in relation to subtype B infections while drug susceptibility of the infecting virus, regardless of subtype, is compared to a subtype B HIV-1 laboratory strain (NL4-3 or IIIB). Mounting evidence suggests that HS to different ARVs may result in better treatment outcome just as drug resistance leads to treatment failure. We have identified key amino acid polymorphisms in the protease coding region of a non-B HIV-1 subtype linked to protease inhibitor HS, namely, 17E and 64M in CRF02_AG. These HS-linked polymorphisms were introduced in the BD6-15 CRF02_AG molecular clone and tested for inhibition using a panel of protease inhibitors. In general, suspected HS-linked polymorphisms did increase susceptibility to specific protease inhibitors such as amprenavir and atazanavir, but the combination of the 17E/64M polymorphisms showed greater HS. These two mutations were found at low frequencies but linked in a sequence database of over 700 protease sequences of CRF02_AG. In direct head-to-head virus competitions, CRF02_AG harboring the 17E/64M polymorphisms also had higher replicative fitness than did the 17E or the 64M polymorphism in the CFR02_AG clone. These findings suggest that subtype-specific, linked polymorphisms can result in hypersusceptibility to ARVs. Considering the potential benefit of HS to treatment outcome, screening for potential HS-linked polymorphisms as well as preexisting drug resistance mutations in treatment-naïve patients may guide the choice of ARVs for the best treatment outcome.
PMCID: PMC3346603  PMID: 22330918
11.  Comparative Effectiveness of Dried-Plasma Hepatitis B Virus Viral Load (VL) Testing in Three Different VL Commercial Platforms Using ViveST for Sample Collection 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(1):145-147.
Ninety-six samples from hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected individuals were used to compare ViveST samples to frozen samples in COBAS TaqMan, RealArt, and VERSANT. Correlation (r) between ViveST samples and frozen samples was 0.99 in all three platforms. Correlations among tests using frozen samples were 0.96 for COBAS and RealArt, 0.94 for COBAS and VERSANT, and 0.97 for VERSANT and RealArt. The results indicate that ViveST may be useful in clinical practice. Different HBV-VL platforms correlated well with one another.
PMCID: PMC3256692  PMID: 22012021
12.  Relaxation of Adaptive Evolution during the HIV-1 Infection Owing to Reduction of CD4+ T Cell Counts 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39776.
The first stages of HIV-1 infection are essential to establish the diversity of virus population within host. It has been suggested that adaptation to host cells and antibody evasion are the leading forces driving HIV evolution at the initial stages of AIDS infection. In order to gain more insights on adaptive HIV-1 evolution, the genetic diversity was evaluated during the infection time in individuals contaminated by the same viral source in an epidemic cluster. Multiple sequences of V3 loop region of the HIV-1 were serially sampled from four individuals: comprising a single blood donor, two blood recipients, and another sexually infected by one of the blood recipients. The diversity of the viral population within each host was analyzed independently in distinct time points during HIV-1 infection.
Phylogenetic analysis identified multiple HIV-1 variants transmitted through blood transfusion but the establishing of new infections was initiated by a limited number of viruses. Positive selection (dN/dS>1) was detected in the viruses within each host in all time points. In the intra-host viruses of the blood donor and of one blood recipient, X4 variants appeared respectively in 1993 and 1989. In both patients X4 variants never reached high frequencies during infection time. The recipient, who X4 variants appeared, developed AIDS but kept narrow and constant immune response against HIV-1 during the infection time.
Slowing rates of adaptive evolution and increasing diversity in HIV-1 are consequences of the CD4+ T cells depletion. The dynamic of R5 to X4 shift is not associated with the initial amplitude of humoral immune response or intensity of positive selection.
PMCID: PMC3387245  PMID: 22768122
13.  Differential Persistence of Transmitted HIV-1 Drug Resistance Mutation Classes 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(8):1174-1181.
Background. Transmitted human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) drug resistance (TDR) mutations can become replaced over time by emerging wild-type viral variants with improved fitness. The impact of class-specific mutations on this rate of mutation replacement is uncertain.
Methods. We studied participants with acute and/or early HIV infection and TDR in 2 cohorts (San Francisco, California, and São Paulo, Brazil). We followed baseline mutations longitudinally and compared replacement rates between mutation classes with use of a parametric proportional hazards model.
Results. Among 75 individuals with 195 TDR mutations, M184V/I became undetectable markedly faster than did nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) mutations (hazard ratio, 77.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 14.7–408.2; P < .0001), while protease inhibitor and NNRTI replacement rates were similar. Higher plasma HIV-1 RNA level predicted faster mutation replacement, but this was not statistically significant (hazard ratio, 1.71 log10 copies/mL; 95% CI, .90–3.25 log10 copies/mL; P = .11). We found substantial person-to-person variability in mutation replacement rates not accounted for by viral load or mutation class (P < .0001).
Conclusions. The rapid replacement of M184V/I mutations is consistent with known fitness costs. The long-term persistence of NNRTI and protease inhibitor mutations suggests a risk for person-to-person propagation. Host and/or viral factors not accounted for by viral load or mutation class are likely influencing mutation replacement and warrant further study.
PMCID: PMC3107558  PMID: 21451005
14.  Faster HIV-1 Disease Progression among Brazilian Individuals Recently Infected with CXCR4-Utilizing Strains 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30292.
Primary HIV infection is usually caused by R5 viruses, and there is an association between the emergence of CCXR4-utilizing strains and faster disease progression. We characterized HIV-1 from a cohort of recently infected individuals in Brazil, predicted the virus's co-receptor use based on the env genotype and attempted to correlate virus profiles with disease progression.
A total of 72 recently infected HIV patients were recruited based on the Serologic Testing Algorithm for Recent HIV Seroconversion and were followed every three to four months for up to 78 weeks. The HIV-1 V3 region was characterized by sequencing nine to twelve weeks after enrollment. Disease progression was characterized by CD4+ T-cell count decline to levels consistently below 350 cells/µL.
Twelve out of 72 individuals (17%) were predicted to harbor CXCR4-utilizing strains; a baseline CD4<350 was more frequent among these individuals (p = 0.03). Fifty-seven individuals that were predicted to have CCR5-utilizing viruses and 10 individuals having CXCR4-utilizing strains presented with baseline CD4>350; after 78 weeks, 33 individuals with CCR5 strains and one individual with CXCR4 strains had CD4>350 (p = 0.001). There was no association between CD4 decline and demographic characteristics or HIV-1 subtype.
Our findings confirm the presence of strains with higher in vitro pathogenicity during early HIV infection, suggesting that even among recently infected individuals, rapid progression may be a consequence of the early emergence of CXCR4-utilizing strains. Characterizing the HIV-1 V3 region by sequencing may be useful in predicting disease progression and guiding treatment initiation decisions.
PMCID: PMC3266896  PMID: 22291931
15.  The Influence of HIV-1 Subtype in the Response to Therapeutic Dendritic Cell Vaccine 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:289-292.
In the present study, we investigated the influence of HIV-1 subtype in the response to the dendritic cell (DC) therapeutic vaccine for HIV. HIV-1 viral load and TCD8+/TCD4+ cell counts for up to 48 weeks after vaccination. Out of 19 immunized subjects, 13 were infected by subtype B, 5 by subtype F, and 1 by subtype D. Overall, 42.1% (8/19) achieved a viral load decline of ≥ 1 log10 sustained up to 48 weeks after immunization. Such magnitude of viral load drop was seen in 80% (4/5) of subtype F infected patients, and in 23.0% (3/13) of the subtype B infected ones (p=0.08). Moreover, mean viral load decline was 1.32 log10, for subtype F infected individuals compared to 0.5 log10 among subtype B infected patients (p=0.01). The variation in TCD4+ cell count was not related to HIV-1 subtype. Larger studies are necessary to confirm the efficacy of this immunotherapy and the differential response according to the background genetic diversity of HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC3534477  PMID: 23289053
Dendritic cells; HIV-1 subtype; vaccine; immunotherapy.
16.  The Brazilian Network for HIV-1 Genotyping External Quality Control Assurance Programme 
The Brazilian network for genotyping is composed of 21 laboratories that perform and analyze genotyping tests for all HIV-infected patients within the public system, performing approximately 25,000 tests per year. We assessed the interlaboratory and intralaboratory reproducibility of genotyping systems by creating and implementing a local external quality control evaluation. Plasma samples from HIV-1-infected individuals (with low and intermediate viral loads) or RNA viral constructs with specific mutations were used. This evaluation included analyses of sensitivity and specificity of the tests based on qualitative and quantitative criteria, which scored laboratory performance on a 100-point system. Five evaluations were performed from 2003 to 2008, with 64% of laboratories scoring over 80 points in 2003, 81% doing so in 2005, 56% in 2006, 91% in 2007, and 90% in 2008 (Kruskal-Wallis, p = 0.003). Increased performance was aided by retraining laboratories that had specific deficiencies. The results emphasize the importance of investing in laboratory training and interpretation of DNA sequencing results, especially in developing countries where public (or scarce) resources are used to manage the AIDS epidemic.
PMCID: PMC3192700  PMID: 21936945
17.  Prevalence, Incidence Density, and Genotype Distribution of GB Virus C Infection in a Cohort of Recently HIV-1-Infected Subjects in Sao Paulo, Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18407.
The results of previous studies elsewhere have indicated that GB virus C (GBV-C) infection is frequent in patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) due to similar transmission routes of both viruses. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence, incidence density and genotypic characteristics of GBV-C in this population.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The study population included 233 patients from a cohort primarily comprised of homosexual men recently infected with HIV-1 in São Paulo, Brazil. The presence of GBV-C RNA was determined in plasma samples by reverse transcriptase-nested polymerase chain reaction and quantified by real-time PCR. GBV-C genotypes were determined by direct sequencing. HIV viral load, CD4+ T lymphocyte and CD8+ T lymphocyte count were also tested in all patients. The overall prevalence of GBV-C infection was 0.23 (95% CI: 0.18 to 0.29) in the study group. There was no significant difference between patients with and without GBV-C infection and Glycoprotein E2 antibody presence regarding age, sex, HIV-1 viral load, CD4+ and CD8+T cell counts and treatment with antiretroviral drugs. An inverse correlation was observed between GBV-C and HIV-1 loads at enrollment and after one year. Also, a positive but not significant correlation was observed between GBV-C load and CD4+ T lymphocyte. Phylogenetic analysis of the GBV-C isolates revealed the presence of genotype 1 and genotype 2, these sub classified into subtype 2a and 2b.
GBV-C infection is common in recently HIV -1 infected patients in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the predominant genotype is 2b. This study provides the first report of the GBV-C prevalence at the time of diagnosis of HIV-1 and the incidence density of GBV-C infection in one year.
PMCID: PMC3071701  PMID: 21483671
18.  Correction: Analysis of the Origin and Evolutionary History of HIV-1 CRF28_BF and CRF29_BF Reveals a Decreasing Prevalence in the AIDS Epidemic of Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):10.1371/annotation/25854e06-a961-4fec-8664-38667cc278b8.
PMCID: PMC3061945
19.  Analysis of the Origin and Evolutionary History of HIV-1 CRF28_BF and CRF29_BF Reveals a Decreasing Prevalence in the AIDS Epidemic of Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17485.
HIV-1 subtype B and subtype F are prevalent in the AIDS epidemic of Brazil. Recombinations between these subtypes have generated at least four BF circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). CRF28_BF and CRF29_BF are among the first two BF recombinants being identified in Brazil and they contributed significantly to the epidemic. However, the evolution and demographic histories of the CRFs are unclear.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A collection of gag and pol sequences sampled within Brazil was screened for CRF28_BF-like and CRF29_BF-like recombination patterns. A Bayesian coalescent framework was employed to delineate the phylogenetic, divergence time and population dynamics of the virus having CRF28_BF-like and CRF29_BF-like genotype. These recombinants were phylogenetically related to each other and formed a well-supported monophyletic clade dated to 1988–1989. The effective number of infections by these recombinants grew exponentially over a five-year period after their emergence, but then decreased toward the present following a logistic model of population growth. The demographic pattern of both recombinants closely resembles those previously reported for CRF31_BC.
We revealed that HIV-1 recombinants of the CRF28_BF/CRF29_BF clade are still circulating in the Brazilian population. These recombinants did not exhibit a strong founder effect and showed a decreasing prevalence in the AIDS epidemic of Brazil. Our data suggested that multiple URFs may also play a role in shaping the epidemic of recombinant BF HIV-1 in the region.
PMCID: PMC3046974  PMID: 21390250
20.  Unexpected Diversity of Cellular Immune Responses against Nef and Vif in HIV-1-Infected Patients Who Spontaneously Control Viral Replication 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11436.
HIV-1-infected individuals who spontaneously control viral replication represent an example of successful containment of the AIDS virus. Understanding the anti-viral immune responses in these individuals may help in vaccine design. However, immune responses against HIV-1 are normally analyzed using HIV-1 consensus B 15-mers that overlap by 11 amino acids. Unfortunately, this method may underestimate the real breadth of the cellular immune responses against the autologous sequence of the infecting virus.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Here we compared cellular immune responses against nef and vif-encoded consensus B 15-mer peptides to responses against HLA class I-predicted minimal optimal epitopes from consensus B and autologous sequences in six patients who have controlled HIV-1 replication. Interestingly, our analysis revealed that three of our patients had broader cellular immune responses against HLA class I-predicted minimal optimal epitopes from either autologous viruses or from the HIV-1 consensus B sequence, when compared to responses against the 15-mer HIV-1 type B consensus peptides.
Conclusion and Significance
This suggests that the cellular immune responses against HIV-1 in controller patients may be broader than we had previously anticipated.
PMCID: PMC2896403  PMID: 20625436
22.  Brazilian Network for HIV Drug Resistance Surveillance: a survey of individuals recently diagnosed with HIV 
Use of antiretrovirals is widespread in Brazil, where more than 200,000 individuals are under treatment. Although general prevalence of primary antiretroviral resistance in Brazil is low, systematic sampling in large metropolitan areas has not being performed.
The HIV Threshold Survey methodology (HIV-THS, WHO) was utilized, targeting Brazil's four major regions and selecting the six most populated state capitals: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Brasilia and Belem. We were able to sequence samples from 210 individuals with recent HIV diagnosis, 17 of them (8.1%) carrying HIV isolates with primary antiretroviral resistance mutations. Five, nine and four isolates showed mutations related to resistance to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) and protease inhibitors (PIs), respectively. Using HIV-THS, we could find an intermediate level of transmitted resistance (5% to 15%) in Belem/Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Lower level of transmitted resistance (<5%) were observed in the other areas. Despite the extensive antiretroviral exposure and high rates of virologic antiretroviral failure in Brazil, the general prevalence of primary resistance is still low. However, an intermediate level of primary resistance was found in the four major Brazilian cities, confirming the critical need to start larger sampling surveys to better define the risk factors associated with transmission of resistant HIV.
PMCID: PMC2759910  PMID: 19765271
23.  High Human Herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) Prevalence, Clinical Correlates and High Incidence among Recently HIV-1-Infected Subjects in Sao Paulo, Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5613.
Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) is the etiological agent for Kaposi Sarcoma, which occurs especially in HIV-infected subjects. HHV-8 infection and its clinical correlates have not been well characterized in recently HIV-1-infected subjects, especially men who have sex with men (MSM).
Methodology/ Principal Findings
We assessed the HHV-8 seroprevalence, clinical correlates, and incidence after one year of follow-up in a cohort of 228 recently HIV-1-infected individuals, of whom 83.6% were MSM, using indirect immunofluorescence assay. The prevalence of HHV-8 infection at the time of cohort enrollment was 25.9% (59/228). In the univariate model, there were significant associations with male gender, black ethnicity, MSM practice, and previous hepatitis B virus and syphilis infections. In the multivariate model we could still demonstrate association with MSM, hepatitis B, and black ethnicity. No differences in mean CD4+ cell counts or HIV viral load according to HHV-8 status were found. In terms of incidence, there were 23/127 (18.1%) seroconversions in the cohort after 1 year.
HHV-8 is highly prevalent among recently HIV-1-infected subjects. Correlations with other sexually transmitted infections suggest common transmission routes.
PMCID: PMC2682704  PMID: 19479040
25.  Strong HIV-1-Specific T Cell Responses in HIV-1-Exposed Uninfected Infants and Neonates Revealed after Regulatory T Cell Removal 
PLoS ONE  2006;1(1):e102.
In utero transmission of HIV-1 occurs on average in only 3%–15% of HIV-1-exposed neonates born to mothers not on antiretroviral drug therapy. Thus, despite potential exposure, the majority of infants remain uninfected. Weak HIV-1-specific T-cell responses have been detected in children exposed to HIV-1, and potentially contribute to protection against infection. We, and others, have recently shown that the removal of CD4+CD25+ T-regulatory (Treg) cells can reveal strong HIV-1 specific T-cell responses in some HIV-1 infected adults. Here, we hypothesized that Treg cells could suppress HIV-1-specific immune responses in young children.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We studied two cohorts of children. The first group included HIV-1-exposed-uninfected (EU) as well as unexposed (UNEX) neonates. The second group comprised HIV-1-infected and HIV-1-EU children. We quantified the frequency of Treg cells, T-cell activation, and cell-mediated immune responses. We detected high levels of CD4+CD25+CD127− Treg cells and low levels of CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activation in the cord blood of the EU neonates. We observed HIV-1-specific T cell immune responses in all of the children exposed to the virus. These T-cell responses were not seen in the cord blood of control HIV-1 unexposed neonates. Moreover, the depletion of CD4+CD25+ Treg cells from the cord blood of EU newborns strikingly augmented both CD4+ and CD8+ HIV-1-specific immune responses.
This study provides new evidence that EU infants can mount strong HIV-1-specific T cell responses, and that in utero CD4+CD25+ T-regulatory cells may be contributing to the lack of vertical transmission by reducing T cell activation.
PMCID: PMC1762312  PMID: 17183635

Results 1-25 (25)