Infectious and inflammatory diseases have repeatedly shown strong genetic associations within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC); however, the basis for these associations remains elusive. To define host genetic effects on the outcome of a chronic viral infection, we performed genome-wide association analysis in a multiethnic cohort of HIV-1 controllers and progressors, and we analyzed the effects of individual amino acids within the classical human leukocyte antigen (HLA) proteins. We identified >300 genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the MHC and none elsewhere. Specific amino acids in the HLA-B peptide binding groove, as well as an independent HLA-C effect, explain the SNP associations and reconcile both protective and risk HLA alleles. These results implicate the nature of the HLA–viral peptide interaction as the major factor modulating durable control of HIV infection.
Combination antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection improves immune function and eliminates the risk of AIDS-related complications, but does not restore full health. HIV-infected adults have excess risk of cardiovascular, liver, kidney, bone and neurologic diseases. Many markers of inflammation are elevated in HIV disease and strongly predictive of the risk of morbidity and mortality. A conceptual model has emerged to explain this syndrome of diseases where HIV-mediated destruction of gut mucosa leads to local and systemic inflammation. Translocated microbial products then pass through the liver, contributing to hepatic damage, impaired microbial clearance and impaired protein synthesis. Chronic activation of monocytes and altered liver protein synthesis subsequently contribute to a hypercoagulable state. The combined effect of systemic inflammation and excess clotting on tissue function leads to end-organ disease. Multiple therapeutic interventions designed to reverse these pathways are now being tested in the clinic. It is likely that knowledge gained on how inflammation affect health in HIV disease could have implications for our understanding of other chronic inflammatory diseases and the biology of aging.
Determining the total amount of HIV DNA in people undergoing antiretroviral therapy could accelerate the development of novel therapies and potential cures for HIV infection.
HIV-1; reservoir; antiretroviral therapy; cure; primary infection; Human
Despite complete or near-complete suppression of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication with combination antiretroviral therapy, both HIV and chronic inflammation/immune dysfunction persist indefinitely. Untangling the association between the virus and the host immune environment during therapy might lead to novel interventions aimed at either curing the infection or preventing the development of inflammation-associated end-organ disease. Chronic inflammation and immune dysfunction might lead to HIV persistence by causing virus production, generating new target cells, enabling infecting of activated and resting target cells, altering the migration patterns of susceptible target cells, increasing the proliferation of infected cells, and preventing normal HIV-specific clearance mechanisms from function. Chronic HIV production or replication might contribute to persistent inflammation and immune dysfunction. The rapidly evolving data on these issues strongly suggest that a vicious cycle might exist in which HIV persistence causes inflammation that in turn contributes to HIV persistence.
AIDS; immunodeficiency diseases; dell activation; cell differentiation; cell proliferation; inflammation
Antiretroviral therapy has been a spectacular success. People are now asking if the end of AIDS is possible. For those who are motivated to take therapy and who have access to lifelong treatment, AIDS-related illnesses are no longer the primary threat, but a new set of HIV-associated complications have emerged, resulting in a novel chronic disease that for many will span several decades of life. Treatment does not fully restore immune health; as a consequence, a number of inflammation-associated and/or immunodeficiency complications such as cardiovascular disease and cancer are increasing in importance. Cumulative toxicities from exposure to antiretroviral drugs for decades cause clinically-relevant metabolic disturbances and end-organ damage. There are growing concerns that the multi-morbidity associated with HIV disease may impact healthy aging and could overwhelm some health care systems, particularly those in resource-limited regions that have yet to fully develop a chronic care model. Given the problems inherent in treating and caring for a chronic disease that might persist for several decades, a global effort to identify a cure is now underway.
Routine monitoring of plasma HIV RNA among HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) is unavailable in many resource-limited settings. Alternative monitoring approaches correlate poorly with virologic failure and can substantially delay switch to second-line therapy. We evaluated the impact of delayed switch on mortality among patients with virologic failure in Africa.
We examined patients with confirmed virologic failure on first-line non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI)-based regimens from four cohorts with serial HIV RNA monitoring in Uganda and South Africa. Marginal structural models aimed to estimate the effect of delayed switch on mortality in a hypothetical trial in which switch time was randomly assigned. Inverse probability weights adjusted for measured confounders including time-updated CD4+ T-cell count and HIV RNA.
Among 823 patients with confirmed virologic failure, the cumulative incidence of switch 180 days after failure was 30% [95% confidence interval (CI) 27–33]. The majority of patients (74%) had not failed immunologically as defined by WHO criteria by the time of virologic failure. Adjusted mortality was higher for individuals who remained on first-line therapy than for those who had switched [odds ratio (OR) 2.1, 95% CI 1.1 –4.2]. Among those without immunologic failure, the relative harm of failure to switch was similar (OR 2.4; 95% CI 0.99–5.8) to that of the entire cohort, although of borderline statistical significance.
Among HIV-infected patients with confirmed virologic failure on first-line ART, remaining on first-line therapy led to an increase in mortality relative to switching. Our results suggest that detection and response to confirmed virologic failure could decrease mortality.
antiretroviral; cohort studies; HIV; HIV RNA level; inverse probability weight; marginal structural model; time-dependent confounding; treatment failure; viral load
Human Immunodeficiency Virus- (HIV-) infected persons have a higher risk for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) than HIV-uninfected persons. Earlier studies suggest that HIV viral load, CD4+ T-cell count, and antiretroviral therapy are associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Whether CD8+ T-cell count is associated with CVD risk is not clear. We investigated the association between CD8+ T-cell count and incident AMI in a cohort of 73,398 people (of which 97.3% were men) enrolled in the U.S. Veterans Aging Cohort Study-Virtual Cohort (VACS-VC). Compared to uninfected people, HIV-infected people with high baseline CD8+ T-cell counts (>1065 cells/mm3) had increased AMI risk (adjusted HR = 1.82, P < 0.001, 95% CI: 1.46 to 2.28). There was evidence that the effect of CD8+ T-cell tertiles on AMI risk differed by CD4+ T-cell level: compared to uninfected people, HIV-infected people with CD4+ T-cell counts ≥200 cells/mm3 had increased AMI risk with high CD8+ T-cell count, while those with CD4+ T-cell counts <200 cells/mm3 had increased AMI risk with low CD8+ T-cell count. CD8+ T-cell counts may add additional AMI risk stratification information beyond that provided by CD4+ T-cell counts alone.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is able to suppress HIV-1 replication indefinitely in individuals who have access to these medications, are able to tolerate these drugs, and are motivated to take them daily for life. However, ART is not curative. HIV-1 persists indefinitely during ART as quiescent integrated DNA within memory CD4+ T cells and perhaps other long-lived cellular reservoirs. In this review, we discuss the role of the immune system on the establishment and maintenance of this “latent” HIV-1 reservoir. A detailed understanding of how the host immune system shapes the size and distribution of the viral reservoir should lead to the development of a new generation of immune-based therapeutics, which might eventually contribute to a curative intervention.
The anti-inflammatory agent, mesalamine (5-aminosalicylic acid) has been shown to decrease mucosal inflammation in ulcerative colitis. The effect of mesalamine in HIV-infected individuals, who exhibit abnormal mucosal immune activation and microbial translocation (MT), has not been established in a placebo-controlled trial. We randomized 33 HIV-infected subjects with CD4 counts <350 cells/mm3 and plasma HIV RNA levels <40 copies/ml on antiretroviral therapy (ART) to add mesalamine vs. placebo to their existing regimen for 12 weeks followed by a 12 week crossover to the other arm. Compared to placebo-treated subjects, mesalamine-treated subjects did not experience any significant change in the percent CD38+HLA-DR+ peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells at week 12 (P = 0.38 and P = 0.63, respectively), or in the CD4+ T cell count at week 12 (P = 0.83). The percent CD38+HLA-DR+ CD4+ and CD8+ T cells also did not change significantly in rectal tissue (P = 0.86, P = 0.84, respectively). During the period of mesalamine administration, plasma sCD14, IL-6, D-dimer, and kynurenine to tryptophan ratio were not changed significantly at week 12 and were similarly unchanged at week 24. This study suggests that, at least under the conditions studied, the persistent immune activation associated with HIV infection is not impacted by the anti-inflammatory effects of mesalamine.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) persistence in latently infected resting memory CD4+ T-cells is the major barrier to HIV cure. Cellular histone deacetylases (HDACs) are important in maintaining HIV latency and histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) may reverse latency by activating HIV transcription from latently infected CD4+ T-cells. We performed a single arm, open label, proof-of-concept study in which vorinostat, a pan-HDACi, was administered 400 mg orally once daily for 14 days to 20 HIV-infected individuals on suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART). The primary endpoint was change in cell associated unspliced (CA-US) HIV RNA in total CD4+ T-cells from blood at day 14. The study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01365065). Vorinostat was safe and well tolerated and there were no dose modifications or study drug discontinuations. CA-US HIV RNA in blood increased significantly in 18/20 patients (90%) with a median fold change from baseline to peak value of 7.4 (IQR 3.4, 9.1). CA-US RNA was significantly elevated 8 hours post drug and remained elevated 70 days after last dose. Significant early changes in expression of genes associated with chromatin remodeling and activation of HIV transcription correlated with the magnitude of increased CA-US HIV RNA. There were no statistically significant changes in plasma HIV RNA, concentration of HIV DNA, integrated DNA, inducible virus in CD4+ T-cells or markers of T-cell activation. Vorinostat induced a significant and sustained increase in HIV transcription from latency in the majority of HIV-infected patients. However, additional interventions will be needed to efficiently induce virus production and ultimately eliminate latently infected cells.
The major barrier to curing HIV is the long term persistence of latently infected resting memory T-cells in HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). One strategy being pursued to eliminate latently infected cells is to activate HIV production from latently infected cells with the aim of killing latently infected cells via virus induced cell death or stimulation of an HIV-specific immune response. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are important in maintaining HIV latency. Vorinostat, an inhibitor of HDACs (HDACi) licensed for the treatment of some malignancies, has been shown in laboratory studies and a clinical study of selected individuals to disrupt HIV latency. We examined the ability of standard dose vorinostat given daily for 14 days to activate latent HIV infection in unselected HIV-infected individuals on ART. The study showed evidence of activation of latent HIV infection in 18/20 (90%) of individuals and was safe and generally well tolerated. There were significant early changes in host gene expression, which persisted during and after the period of vorinostat. No changes were seen in immune activation or number of latently infected cells. Vorinostat was able to activate latent HIV infection in most individuals. Additional interventions will be needed to eliminate latent HIV infection.
Cardiovascular complications are more common in human immunodeficiency virus–infected individuals than in age-matched uninfected individuals. Antiretroviral therapy reduces the risk of cardiovascular complications, suggesting that viral replication directly or indirectly causes vascular disease. Long-term effective antiretroviral therapy does not fully restore vascular health, and treated adults continue to have higher-than-expected rates of disease progression. Although this excess risk during therapy is likely due to multiple factors, a growing body of evidence suggests that chronic inflammation, which persists during effective antiretroviral therapy, is directly and causally associated with vascular dysfunction and the accelerated development of atherosclerosis.
Background. The degree to which human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to replicate during antiretroviral therapy (ART) is controversial. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess whether raltegravir intensification reduces low-level viral replication, as defined by an increase in the level of 2–long terminal repeat (2-LTR) circles.
Methods. Thirty-one subjects with an ART-suppressed plasma HIV RNA level of <40 copies/mL and a CD4+ T-cell count of ≥350 cells/mm3 for ≥1 year were randomly assigned to receive raltegravir 400 mg twice daily or placebo for 24 weeks. 2-LTR circles were analyzed by droplet digital polymerase chain reaction at weeks 0, 1, 2, and 8.
Results. The median duration of ART suppression was 3.8 years. The raltegravir group had a significant increase in the level of 2-LTR circles, compared to the placebo group. The week 1 to 0 ratio was 8.8-fold higher (P = .0025) and the week 2 to 0 ratio was 5.7-fold higher (P = .023) in the raltegravir vs. placebo group. Intensification also led to a statistically significant decrease in the D-dimer level, compared to placebo (P = .045).
Conclusions. Raltegravir intensification resulted in a rapid increase in the level of 2-LTR circles in a proportion of subjects, indicating that low-level viral replication persists in some individuals even after long-term ART. Intensification also reduced the D-dimer level, a coagulation biomarker that is predictive of morbidity and mortality among patients receiving treatment for HIV infection.
HIV; raltegravir intensification; 2-LTR circles; ongoing viral replication; D-dimer
The association between the host immune environment and the size of the HIV reservoir during effective antiretroviral therapy is not clear. Progress has also been limited by the lack of a well-accepted assay for quantifying HIV during therapy. We examined the association between multiple measurements of HIV and T cell activation (as defined by markers including CD38, HLA-DR, CCR5 and PD-1) in 30 antiretroviral-treated HIV-infected adults. We found a consistent association between the frequency of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing HLA-DR and the frequency of resting CD4+ T cells containing HIV DNA. This study highlights the need to further examine this relationship and to better characterize the biology of markers commonly used in HIV studies. These results may also have implications for reactivation strategies.
There is intense interest in the role of programmed death 1 (PD-1) in causing persistent T-cell dysfunction in HIV infection. However, the impact of HIV infection and antiretroviral treatment (ART) on the expression of PD-1 on T cells is still poorly defined.
PD-1 was measured longitudinally in a cohort of recently HIV-infected individuals (n = 121) who started ART early (<6 months after infection) vs. later (≥2 years after infection). PD-1 was also measured cross-sectionally in a diverse cohort of chronically HIV-infected adults (n = 206).
PD-1 expression levels were high on CD8+ T cells during early HIV infection. PD-1 levels increased on both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells populations in those who delayed therapy (11 and 10%/year, respectively). PD-1 levels declined and were similar in those treated early vs. late after 1 year of ART. In both cohorts, PD-1 expression on CD4+ T cells was associated with CD4+ T-cell activation (CD38+HLA-DR+) and inversely with CD4+ cell count. In contrast, PD-1 expression on CD8+ T cells was most strongly associated with CD8+ T-cell activation and with plasma viral load in viremic individuals.
Across two large cohorts of untreated and treated individuals, we found consistent associations between HIV RNA levels, CD8+ T-cell activation and PD-1 expression on CD8+ T cells. In contrast, CD4+ T-cell counts and CD4+ T-cell activation were more consistent correlates of PD-1 expression on CD4+ T cells. PD-1 expression appears to be driven by both direct antigen and homeostatic pathways.
CD4+ lymphocyte count; early antiretroviral therapy; HIV antiretroviral therapy; HIV-1/immunology/*physiology; humans; programmed death-1; T-cell activation; T lymphocytes/immunology/*physiology; virus replication/physiology
Background. The role of active hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication in chronic kidney disease (CKD) risk has not been clarified.
Methods. We compared CKD incidence in a large cohort of HIV-infected subjects who were HCV seronegative, HCV viremic (detectable HCV RNA), or HCV aviremic (HCV seropositive, undetectable HCV RNA). Stages 3 and 5 CKD were defined according to standard criteria. Progressive CKD was defined as a sustained 25% glomerular filtration rate (GFR) decrease from baseline to a GFR < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2. We used Cox models to calculate adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results. A total of 52 602 HCV seronegative, 9508 HCV viremic, and 913 HCV aviremic subjects were included. Compared with HCV seronegative subjects, HCV viremic subjects were at increased risk for stage 3 CKD (adjusted HR 1.36 [95% CI, 1.26, 1.46]), stage 5 CKD (1.95 [1.64, 2.31]), and progressive CKD (1.31 [1.19, 1.44]), while HCV aviremic subjects were also at increased risk for stage 3 CKD (1.19 [0.98, 1.45]), stage 5 CKD (1.69 [1.07, 2.65]), and progressive CKD (1.31 [1.02, 1.68]).
Conclusions. Compared with HIV-infected subjects who were HCV seronegative, both HCV viremic and HCV aviremic individuals were at increased risk for moderate and advanced CKD.
HIV; hepatitis C virus; chronic kidney disease; hepatitis C RNA; cohort study; glomerular filtration rate; injection drug use
Background. CD4+/CD8+ T-cell activation levels often remain elevated in chronic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection despite initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). T-cell activation predicts early death and blunted CD4+ T-cell recovery during ART and may affect persistent HIV reservoir size. We investigated whether very early ART initiation is associated with lower on-therapy immune activation and HIV persistence.
Methods. From a cohort of patients with early HIV infection (<6 months duration since infection) we identified persons who started ART early (<6 months after infection) or later (≥2 years after infection) and maintained ≥2 years of virologic suppression; at-risk HIV-negative persons were controls. We measured CD4+/CD8+ T-cell activation (percent CD38+/HLA-DR+) and HIV reservoir size (based on HIV DNA and cell-associated RNA levels).
Results. In unadjusted analyses, early ART predicted lower on-therapy CD8+ T-cell activation (n = 34; mean, 22.1%) than achieved with later ART (n = 32; mean, 28.8%; P = .009), although levels in early ART remained elevated relative to HIV-negative controls (P = .02). Early ART also predicted lower CD4+ T-cell activation than with later ART (5.3% vs 7.5%; P = .06). Early ART predicted 4.8-fold lower DNA levels than achieved with later ART (P = .005), and lower cell-associated RNA levels (difference in signal-to-cutoff ratio (S/Co), 3.2; P = .035).
Conclusions. ART initiation <6 months after infection is associated with lower levels of T-cell activation and smaller HIV DNA and RNA reservoir size during long-term therapy.
HIV antiretroviral therapy; early ART; T-cell activation; inflammation; HIVreservoir; HIV eradication; HIV cure
Even with optimal antiretroviral therapy, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) persists in plasma, blood cells, and tissues. To develop new therapies, it is essential to know what cell types harbor residual HIV. We measured levels of HIV DNA, RNA, and RNA/DNA ratios in sorted subsets of CD4+ T cells (CCR7+, transitional memory, and effector memory) and non-CD4+ T leukocytes from blood, ileum, and rectum of 8 ART-suppressed HIV-positive subjects. Levels of HIV DNA/million cells in CCR7+ and effector memory cells were higher in the ileum than blood. When normalized by cell frequencies, most HIV DNA and RNA in the blood were found in CCR7+ cells, whereas in both gut sites, most HIV DNA and RNA were found in effector memory cells. HIV DNA and RNA were observed in non-CD4+ T leukocytes at low levels, particularly in gut tissues. Compared to the blood, the ileum had higher levels of HIV DNA and RNA in both CD4+ T cells and non-CD4+ T leukocytes, whereas the rectum had higher HIV DNA levels in both cell types but lower RNA levels in CD4+ T cells. Future studies should determine whether different mechanisms allow HIV to persist in these distinct reservoirs, and the degree to which different therapies can affect each reservoir.
HIV; HIV-1; ART; persistence; reservoir; CD4+ T cell; gut; intestine; ileum; rectum
Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate is a widely used antiretroviral for HIV infection that has been associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Our objective was to derive a scoring system to predict 5-year risk of developing CKD in HIV-infected individuals and to estimate difference in risk associated with tenofovir use.
We evaluated time to first occurrence of CKD (estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 ml/min per 1.73 m2) in 21 590 HIV-infected men from the Veterans Health Administration initiating antiretroviral therapy from 1997 to 2010.
We developed a point-based score using multivariable Cox regression models. Median follow-up was 6.3 years, during which 2059 CKD events occurred.
Dominant contributors to the CKD risk score were traditional kidney risk factors (age, glucose, SBP, hypertension, triglycerides, proteinuria); CD4+ cell count was also a component, but not HIV RNA. The overall 5-year event rate was 7.7% in tenofovir users and 3.8% in nonusers [overall adjusted hazard ratio 2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.8–2.2]. There was a progressive increase in 5-year CKD risk, ranging from less than 1% (zero points) to 16% (≥9 points) in nonusers of tenofovir, and from 1.4 to 21.4% among tenofovir users. The estimated number-needed-to-harm (NNH) for tenofovir use ranged from 108 for those with zero points to 20 for persons with at least nine points. Among tenofovir users with at least 1 year exposure, NNH ranged from 68 (zero points) to five (≥9 points).
The CKD risk score can be used to predict an HIV-infected individual’s absolute risk of developing CKD over 5 years and may facilitate clinical decision-making around tenofovir use.
chronic kidney disease; HIV; risk score; tenofovir
HIV-infected controllers have provided novel insights into mechanisms of viral control. We investigated the degree to which HIV DNA and RNA are present in gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) of controllers.
Cross-sectional cohort study.
Colorectal biopsy pieces were obtained from 5 untreated non-controllers, 5 ART-suppressed subjects, and 9 untreated controllers.
Rectal HIV DNA was lower in controllers (median 496 copies/106 CD4+ T cells) than in untreated non-controllers (117483 copies/106 CD4+ T cells, p=0.001) and ART-suppressed subjects (6116 copies/106 CD4+ T cells, p=0.004). Similarly, rectal HIV RNA was lower in controllers (19 copies/106 CD4+ T cells) than in non-controllers (15210 copies/106 CD4+ T cells, p=0.001) and ART-suppressed subjects (1625 copies/106 CD4+ T cells, p=0.0599). Rectal HIV RNA/DNA ratios were not statistically different between the 3 groups.
Despite being able to maintain very low plasma HIV RNA levels in the absence of antiretroviral therapy, HIV-infected controllers have readily measurable levels of HIV DNA and RNA in GALT. As expected, controllers had lower rectal HIV DNA and RNA compared to untreated non-controllers and ART-suppressed individuals. Compared to the mechanisms of “natural” viral control of controllers, long-term antiretroviral therapy does not reduce the total HIV reservoir to the level of controllers.
HIV; controllers; gut-associated lymphoid tissue; GALT; viral reservoir
To examine the relationship between asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) and HIV-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
HIV infection is an independent risk factor for PAH, but the underlying pathogenesis remains unclear. Chronic inflammation resulting in nitric oxide-mediated endothelial dysfunction is a key mechanism underlying other types of PAH. ADMA is an endogenous inhibitor of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Among uninfected individuals, ADMA is associated with PAH and predicts disease-related mortality.
We measured ADMA, high sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 (IL-6), D-dimer, and pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PASP) using echocardiography in HIV-infected individuals. Right heart catheterization (RHC) was performed in individuals with a PASP at least 30 mmHg. We performed multivariable analysis to identify factors associated with high PASP by echocardiogram and PAH by RHC.
Among 214 HIV-infected individuals, the median age was 50 years, 82% were men, 71% were on antiretroviral therapy, and 4.2% carried a prior diagnosis of PAH. ADMA and IL-6 were associated with increased values of PASP following multivariable adjustment (7.2% per 0.1 μmol/l, P =0.0049 and 3.9% per doubling, P =0.027, respectively). In adjusted analysis among the 85 participants who underwent RHC, ADMA and IL-6 were associated with higher values of mean PAP (14.2% per 0.1 μmol/l, P =0.0014 and 5.8% per doubling, P =0.038, respectively). However, only ADMA was associated with PAH (prevalence ratio =1.74, P =0.029).
Elevated levels of ADMA are independently associated with PAH among HIV-infected individuals. Our findings suggest that chronic HIV-associated inflammation leading to an accumulation of ADMA and subsequent nitric oxide-mediated endothelial dysfunction may represent a novel mechanism for HIV-associated PAH.
asymmetric dimethylarginine; endothelial dysfunction; HIV; nitric oxide; pulmonary arterial hypertension
A rare subset of HIV-infected individuals, designated viremic non-progressors (VNP), remain asymptomatic and maintain normal levels of CD4+ T-cells despite persistently high viremia. To identify mechanisms potentially responsible for the VNP phenotype, we compared VNPs (average >9 years of HIV infection) to HIV-infected individuals who have similar CD4+ T-cell counts and viral load, but who are likely to progress if left untreated (“putative progressors”, PP), thus avoiding the confounding effect of differences related to substantial CD4+ T cell depletion. We found that VNPs, compared to PPs, had preserved levels of CD4+ stem cell memory cells (TSCM (p<0.0001), which was associated with decreased HIV infection of these cells in VNPs (r = −0.649, p = 0.019). In addition, VNPs had decreased HIV infection in CD4+ central memory (TCM) cells (p = 0.035), and the total number of TCM cells was associated with increased proliferation of memory CD4+ T cells (r = 0.733, p = 0.01). Our results suggest that, in HIV-infected VNPs, decreased infection of CD4+ TCM and TSCM, cells are involved in preservation of CD4+ T cell homeostasis and lack of disease progression despite high viremia.
Here we assessed correlates of protection from disease progression in a rare subset of HIV-infected individuals, viremic non-progressors (VNP). These individuals have high viral load for several years. In contrast to the majority of infected individuals, however, these individuals do not progress to AIDS. Here we found this lack of progression was associated with selective preservation of two critical subsets of memory CD4+ T cells, central memory (TCM) and stem-cell memory (TSCM) cells. Compared to HIV-infected putative progressors, VNPs had higher proliferation of these indispensable subsets of memory cells. In addition, the long-lived CD4+ TCM and TSCM cells in VNPs had decreased HIV infection compared to the less critical effector memory CD4+ T cells, which indicates a possible mechanism by which VNPs maintain their CD4+ T cell pool after several years of infection, and remain free from AIDS progression.
To assess whether CD8+ T-cell activation predicts risk of AIDS and non-AIDS morbidity during suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Post-hoc analyses of ART-naïve subjects in prospective ART studies. Subjects with HIV-RNA levels ≤ 200 copies/mL and CD8+ T-cell activation data (%CD38+HLA-DR+) at year-one of ART were selected to determine years 2–5 incidence of AIDS and non-AIDS events.
We censored data at time of ART interruption or virologic failure. Inverse probability of censoring weighted logistic regression was used to correct for informative censoring.
We included 1025 subjects; 82% were men, median age 38 years, pre-ART CD4 count 255 cells/mm3, and year-one activated CD8+ T-cells 24%. Of these, 752 had 5 years of follow-up; 379 remained on ART and had no confirmed plasma HIV-RNA >200 copies/mL. The overall probability of an AIDS or non-AIDS event in years 2–5 was estimated at 13% (95%-confidence interval [CI] 10–15%), had everyone remained on suppressive ART. Higher year-one activated CD8+ T-cell percentage increased the probability of subsequent events (Odds-Ratio 1.22 per 10% higher [95%-CI 1.04–1.44]); this effect was not significant after adjusting for age. Among those age ≥ 50 years (n=108 at year 1), the probability of an event in years 2–5 was 37% and the effect of CD8+ T-cell activation was more apparent (Odds-Ratio=1.42, p=0.02 unadjusted and adjusted for age).
CD8+ T-cell activation is prognostic of clinical events during suppressive ART although this association is confounded by age. The consequences of HIV-associated immune activation may be more important in those age ≥50 years.
Antiretroviral Therapy; HIV/AIDS; CD8+T-cell activation; virologic suppression; loss to follow-up; observational data