Viral load (VL) monitoring is the standard of care in developing country settings for detecting HIV treatment failure. Since 2010 the World Health Organization has recommended a phase-in approach to VL monitoring in resource-limited settings. We conducted a systematic review of the accuracy and precision of HIV VL technologies for treatment monitoring.
Methods and Findings
A search of Medline and Embase was conducted for studies evaluating the accuracy or reproducibility of commercially available HIV VL assays. 37 studies were included for review including evaluations of the Amplicor Monitor HIV-1 v1.5 (n = 25), Cobas TaqMan v2.0 (n = 11), Abbott RealTime HIV-1 (n = 23), Versant HIV-1 RNA bDNA 3.0 (n = 15), Versant HIV-1 RNA kPCR 1.0 (n = 2), ExaVir Load v3 (n = 2), and NucliSens EasyQ v2.0 (n = 1). All currently available HIV VL assays are of sufficient sensitivity to detect plasma virus levels at a lower detection limit of 1,000 copies/mL. Bias data comparing the Abbott RealTime HIV-1, TaqMan v2.0 to the Amplicor Monitor v1.5 showed a tendency of the Abbott RealTime HIV-1 to under-estimate results while the TaqMan v2.0 overestimated VL counts. Compared to the Amplicor Monitor v1.5, 2–26% and 9–70% of results from the Versant bDNA 3.0 and Abbott RealTime HIV-1 differed by greater than 0.5log10. The average intra and inter-assay variation of the Abbott RealTime HIV-1 were 2.95% (range 2.0–5.1%) and 5.44% (range 1.17–30.00%) across the range of VL counts (2log10–7log10).
This review found that all currently available HIV VL assays are of sufficient sensitivity to detect plasma VL of 1,000 copies/mL as a threshold to initiate investigations of treatment adherence or possible treatment failure. Sources of variability between VL assays include differences in technology platform, plasma input volume, and ability to detect HIV-1 subtypes. Monitoring of individual patients should be performed on the same technology platform to ensure appropriate interpretation of changes in VL.
Prospero registration # CD42013003603.
Mucosal immunity is central to sexual transmission and overall pathogenesis of HIV-1 infection, but the ability of vaccines to induce immune responses in mucosal tissue compartments is poorly defined. Because macaque vaccine studies suggest that inguinal (versus limb) vaccination may better target sexually-exposed mucosa, we performed a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled Phase I trial in HIV-1-uninfected volunteers, using the recombinant Canarypox (CP) vaccine vCP205 delivered by different routes. 12 persons received vaccine and 6 received placebo, divided evenly between deltoid-intramuscular (deltoid-IM) or inguinal-subcutaneous (inguinal-SC) injection routes. The most significant safety events were injection site reactions (Grade 3) in one inguinal vaccinee. CP-specific antibodies were detected in the blood of all 12 vaccinees by Day 24, while HIV-1-specific antibodies were observed in the blood and gut mucosa of 1/9 and 4/9 evaluated vaccinees respectively, with gut antibodies appearing earlier in inguinal vaccinees (24–180 versus 180–365 days). HIV-1-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes (CTLs) were observed in 7/12 vaccinees, and blood and gut targeting were distinct. Within blood, both deltoid and inguinal responders had detectable CTL responses by 17–24 days; inguinal responders had early responses (within 10 days) while deltoid responders had later responses (24–180 days) in gut mucosa. Our results demonstrate relative safety of inguinal vaccination and qualitative or quantitative compartmentalization of immune responses between blood and gut mucosa, and highlight the importance of not only evaluating early blood responses to HIV-1 vaccines but also mucosal responses over time.
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.
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.
In Mozambique, the evaluation of retention in HIV care and ART programmes is limited. To assess rate and predictors of attrition (no retention in care) and HAART effectiveness in HIV-1 infected patients who pay for medication and laboratory testing in Mozambique, we conducted a multicenter survey of HIV-1-infected patients who started HAART during 2002–2006. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess risk of attrition and of therapy failure. Overall, 142 patients from 16 healthcare centers located in the capital city Maputo were followed-up for 22.2 months (12.1–46.7). The retention rate was 75%, 48% and 37% after one, two and three years, respectively. Risk of attrition was lower in patients with higher baseline CD4 count (P = 0.022) and attending healthcare center 1 (HCC1) (P = 0.013). The proportion of individuals with CD4 count ≤200 cells/µL was 55% (78/142) at baseline and decreased to 6% (3/52) at 36 months. Among the patients with available VL, 86% (64/74) achieved undetectable VL levels. The rate of immunologic failure was 17.2% (95% CI: 12.6–22.9) per 100 person-years. Risk of failure was associated to higher baseline CD4 count (P = 0.002), likely reflecting low adherence levels, and decreased with baseline VL ≥10,000 copies/mL (P = 0.033). These results suggest that HAART can be effective in HIV-1 infected patients from Mozambique that pay for their medication and laboratory testing. Further studies are required to identify the causes for low retention rates in patients with low CD4 counts and to better understand the association between healthcare setting and attrition rate.
Valproic acid and intensified antiretroviral therapy may deplete resting CD4+ T-cell HIV infection. We tested the ability of valproic acid to deplete resting CD4+ T-cell infection in patients receiving standard antiretroviral therapy.
Resting CD4+ T-cell infection was measured in 11 stably aviremic volunteers twice prior to, and twice after Depakote ER 1000 mg was added to standard antiretroviral therapy. Resting CD4+ T-cell infection frequency was measured by outgrowth assay. Low-level viremia was quantitated by single copy plasma HIV RNA assay.
A decrease in resting CD4+ T-cell infection was observed in only four of the 11 patients. Levels of immune activation and HIV-specific T-cell response were low and stable. Valproic acid levels ranged from 26 to 96 μg/ml when measured near trough. Single copy assay was performed in nine patients. In three patients with depletion of resting CD4+ T-cell infection following valproic acid, single copy assay ranged from less than 1–5 copies/ml. Continuous low-level viremia was observed in three patients with stable resting CD4+ T-cell infection (24–87, 8–87, and 1–7 copies/ml respectively) in whom multiple samples were analyzed.
The prospective addition of valproic acid to stable antiretroviral therapy reduced the frequency of resting CD4+ T-cell infection in a minority of volunteers. In patients in whom resting CD4+ T-cell infection depletion was observed, viremia was rarely detectable by single copy assay.
antiretroviral therapy; HIV; latency; resting CD4+ T cells; valproic acid
We examined serum lipids in association with carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women.
In 2003–4, among 1827 Women’s Interagency HIV Study participants, we measured CIMT and lipids (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-c], low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-c], total cholesterol [TC], non-HDL-c). A subset of 520 treated HIV-infected women had pre-1997 lipid measures. We used multivariable linear regression to examine associations between lipids and CIMT.
In HIV-uninfected women, higher TC, LDL-c and non-HDL-c were associated with increased CIMT. Among HIV-infected women, associations of lipids with CIMT were observed in treated but not untreated women. Among the HIV-infected women treated in 2003–4, CIMT was associated both with lipids measured a decade earlier in infection, and with late lipid measurements.
Among HIV-infected women, hyperlipidemia is most strongly associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in treated women. Among treated women, the association appeared strongest early in the disease course.
cardiovascular diseases; carotid arteries; HAART; HIV; lipids
Anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) cetuximab and panitumumab have emerged as an effective targeted therapy in the treatment of cancer patients, but the overall incidence and risk of fatal adverse events (FAEs) associated with these agents is still unclear.
Databases from PubMed, Web of Science and abstracts presented at ASCO meeting up to May 31, 2013 were searched to identify relevant studies. Eligible studies included prospective randomized controlled trials evaluating MoAbs in cancer patients with adequate data on FAEs. Statistical analyses were conducted to calculate the summary incidence, odds ratio and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) by using either random effects or fixed effect models according to the heterogeneity of included studies.
A total of 14,776 patients with a variety of solid tumors from 21 clinical trials were included in our analysis. The overall incidence of MoAbs associated FAEs was 1.7% (95%CI: 1.1–2.5%), and the incidence of cetuximab-related FAEs was higher than that of panitumumab (2.0% versus 0.9%). Compared with the controls, the use of MoAbs was associated with a significantly increased risk of FAEs, with an OR of 1.37 (95%CI: 1.04–1.81, p=0.024). Subgroup analysis based on EGFR-MoAbs drugs, phase of trials and tumor types demonstrated a tendency to increase the risk of FAEs, but the risk did not increase in breast cancer, esophagus cancer and phase II trials.
With present evidence, the use of EGFR-MoAbs is associated with an increased risk of FAEs in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Lactic acid at sufficiently acidic pH is a potent microbicide, and lactic acid produced by vaginal lactobacilli may help protect against reproductive tract infections. However, previous observations likely underestimated healthy vaginal acidity and total lactate concentration since they failed to exclude women without a lactobacillus-dominated vaginal microbiota, and also did not account for the high carbon dioxide, low oxygen environment of the vagina. Fifty-six women with low (0-3) Nugent scores (indicating a lactobacillus-dominated vaginal microbiota) and no symptoms of reproductive tract disease or infection, provided a total of 64 cervicovaginal fluid samples using a collection method that avoided the need for sample dilution and rigorously minimized aerobic exposure. The pH of samples was measured by microelectrode immediately after collection and under a physiological vaginal concentration of CO2. Commercial enzymatic assays of total lactate and total acetate concentrations were validated for use in CVF, and compared to the more usual HPLC method. The average pH of the CVF samples was 3.5 ± 0.3 (mean ± SD), range 2.8-4.2, and the average total lactate was 1.0% ± 0.2% w/v; this is a five-fold higher average hydrogen ion concentration (lower pH) and a fivefold higher total lactate concentration than in the prior literature. The microbicidal form of lactic acid (protonated lactic acid) was therefore eleven-fold more concentrated, and a markedly more potent microbicide, than indicated by prior research. This suggests that when lactobacilli dominate the vaginal microbiota, women have significantly more lactic acid-mediated protection against infections than currently believed. Our results invite further evaluations of the prophylactic and therapeutic actions of vaginal lactic acid, whether provided in situ by endogenous lactobacilli, by probiotic lactobacilli, or by products that reinforce vaginal lactic acid.
A group of over 200 international scientists came together on April 15 in Sydney, Australia just before the 2012 International Microbicides Conference as a part of a workshop to address the basic concepts and factors that modulate HIV infection at the mucosal surface. The meeting focused on defining the interaction between virus, prevailing host physiology, microbiota, and innate and adaptive immune responses and how they combine to impact the outcome at the moment of potential viral transmission. Speakers examined the biology of HIV entry during transmission, innate and natural antiviral mechanisms at the mucosa, microbicide efficacy, pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamics, animal models, and opportunities for combining HIV prevention strategies. Other viral infection models both in vivo and in vitro were considered for the insights they provided into HIV transmission events. The workshop raised important questions that we need to answer to further our basic understanding of host and viral factors influencing HIV transmission to inform the development of novel prevention strategies.
HIV leads to CD4:CD8 ratio inversion as immune dysregulation progresses. We examined the predictors of CD4:CD8 normalization after combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) and determined whether normalization is associated with reduced progression to AIDS-defining illnesses (ADI) and death.
A Canadian cohort of HIV-positive adults with CD4:CD8<1.2 prior to starting cART from 2000–2010 were analyzed. Predictors of (1) reaching a CD4:CD8 ≥1.2 on two separate follow-up visits >30 days apart, and (2) ADI and death from all causes were assessed using adjusted proportional hazards models.
4206 patients were studied for a median of 2.77 years and 306 (7.2%) normalized their CD4:CD8 ratio. Factors associated with achieving a normal CD4:CD8 ratio were: baseline CD4+ T-cells >350 cells/mm3, baseline CD8+ T-cells <500 cells/mm3, time-updated HIV RNA suppression, and not reporting sex with other men as a risk factor. There were 213 ADIs and 214 deaths in 13476 person-years of follow-up. Achieving a normal CD4:CD8 ratio was not associated with time to ADI/death.
In our study, few individuals normalized their CD4:CD8 ratios within the first few years of initiating modern cART. This large study showed no additional short-term predictive value of the CD4:CD8 ratio for clinical outcomes after accounting for other risk factors including age and HIV RNA.
The contribution of immune activation to accelerated HIV-disease progression in older individuals has not been delineated.
Prospective multicenter cohort of older (≥45 years) and younger (18–30 years) HIV-infected adults initiating 192 weeks of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Longitudinal models of CD4 cell restoration examined associations with age-group, thymic volume, immune activation, and viral load.
Forty-five older and 45 younger adults (median age 50 and 26 years, respectively) were studied. Older patients had fewer naive CD4 cells (P <0.001) and higher HLA-DR/CD38 expression on CD4 (P = 0.05) and CD8 cells (P = 0.07) than younger patients at any time on ART. The rate of naive and total CD4 cell increase was similar between age groups, but older patients had a faster mean rate of B-cell increase (by +0.7 cells/week; P = 0.01), to higher counts than healthy controls after 192 weeks (P = 0.003). Naive CD4 increases from baseline were associated with immune activation reductions (as declines from baseline of %CD8 cells expressing HLA-DR/CD38; P <0.0001), but these increases were attenuated in older patients, or in those with small thymuses. A 15% reduction in activation was associated with naive gains of 29.9 and 6.2 cells/μl in younger, versus older patients, or with gains of 25.7, 23.4, and 2.1 cells/μl in patients with the largest, intermediate, and smallest thymuses, respectively (P <0.01 for interactions between activation reduction and age-group or thymic volume).
Older patients had significant B-cell expansion, higher levels of immune activation markers, and significantly attenuated naive CD4 cell gains associated with activation reduction.
aging; immune activation; immunosenescence; thymus
Pre-exposure chemoprophylaxis (PrECP) using antiretroviral agents is a promising strategy for the prevention of sexual HIV transmission in women. Molecular transporters in the human vaginal tract (VT) may play a pivotal role in determining drug disposition and, consequently, pharmacodynamic outcomes in these efforts. Little is known, however, on the expression of these transporters in vaginal tissues, representing a critical knowledge gap.
Our study analyzed the genome-wide transcriptome in 44 vaginal tissue samples from 6 reproductive-age women undergoing gynecologic surgeries. The analysis revealed that, unexpectedly, a large number (43%) of gene isoforms corresponding to membrane transporters were over-expressed (above the median expression level) in all samples. A subset of 12 highly expressed membrane transporters was identified and contained 10 members (83%) of the solute carrier superfamily. The largest difference in membrane transporter gene expression was observed across subjects, but more subtle differential expression also was found along the anterior-posterior axis of the VT. Cross-validation of the microarray analyses with measurements RT-qPCR demonstrated high concordance between these data sets. Immunofluorescence labeling of membrane transporter proteins in vaginal tissues was highly dependent on tissue/cell types.
Antiretroviral PrECP drugs currently under evaluation are substrates for molecular transporters that were commonly expressed, but fell into both over- or under-expressed categories in all samples, suggesting a complex role for carrier-mediated processes in determining the disposition of these xenobiotics in vaginal tissues. These findings hold important implications for the successful development of products, either oral or intravaginal, for female-controlled HIV PrECP.
HIV Gag-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses are important for HIV immune control. Pulsing overlapping Gag peptides on autologous lymphocytes (OPAL) has proven immunogenic and effective in reducing viral loads in multiple pigtail macaque studies, warranting clinical evaluation.
We performed a phase I, single centre, placebo-controlled, double-blinded and dose-escalating study to evaluate the safety and preliminary immunogenicity of a novel therapeutic vaccine approach ‘OPAL-HIV-Gag(c)’. This vaccine is comprised of 120 15mer peptides, overlapping by 11 amino acids, spanning the HIV Gag C clade sequence proteome, pulsed on white blood cells enriched from whole blood using a closed system, followed by intravenous reinfusion. Patients with undetectable HIV viral loads (<50 copies/ml plasma) on HAART received four administrations at week 0, 4, 8 and 12, and were followed up for 12 weeks post-treatment. Twenty-three people were enrolled in four groups: 12 mg (n = 6), 24 mg (n = 7), 48 mg (n = 2) or matching placebo (n = 8) with 18 immunologically evaluable. T-cell immunogenicity was assessed by IFNγ ELIspot and intracellular cytokine staining (ICS).
The OPAL-HIV-Gag(c) peptides were antigenic in vitro in 17/17 subjects. After vaccination with OPAL-HIV-Gag(c), 1/6 subjects at 12 mg and 1/6 subjects at 24 mg dose groups had a 2- and 3-fold increase in ELIspot magnitudes from baseline, respectively, of Gag-specific CD8+ T-cells at week 14, compared to 0/6 subjects in the placebo group. No Gag-specific CD4+ T-cell responses or overall change in Rev, Nef, Tat and CMV specific responses were detected. Marked, transient and self-limiting lymphopenia was observed immediately post-vaccination (4 hours) in OPAL-HIV-Gag(c) but not in placebo recipients, with median fall from 1.72 to 0.67 million lymphocytes/mL for active groups (P<0.001), compared to post-placebo from 1.70 to 1.56 lymphocytes/ml (P = 0.16).
Despite strong immunogenicity observed in several Macaca nemestrina studies using this approach, OPAL-HIV-Gag(c) was not significantly immunogenic in humans and improved methods of generating high-frequency Gag-specific T-cell responses are required.
Name of Registry
ClinicalTrials.gov, Registry number: NCT01123915, URL trial registry database: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=OPAL-HIV-1001&Search=Search
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) infection are both very common and are associated with increased risk of sexual transmission of HIV. There are several mechanisms by which BV and TV could affect susceptibility including inducing pro-inflammatory cytokines and disrupting mucosal barrier function. This review highlights recent advances in our understanding of how these genital conditions lead to an increased risk of HIV infection in women.
Bacterial vaginosis; HIV; Inflammation; Trichomonas vaginalis
Vaginal bacterial communities play an important role in human health and have been shown to influence HIV infection. Pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) are used as an animal model of HIV vaginal infection of women. Since the bacterial microbiota could influence retrovirus infection of pigtailed macaques, the genital microbiota in 10 cycling macaques was determined by pyrosequencing. The microbiota of all macaques was polymicrobial with a median of 13 distinct genera. Strikingly, the genera Sneathia and Fusobacterium, both in the phylum Fusobacteria, accounted for 18.9% and 13.3% of sequences while the next most frequent were Prevotella (5.6%), Porphyromonas (4.1%), Atopobium (3.6%), and Parvimonas (2.6%). Sequences corresponding to Lactobacillus comprised only 2.2% of sequences on average and were essentially all L. amylovorus. Longitudinal sampling of the 10 macaques over an 8-week period, which spanned at least one full ovulatory cycle, showed a generally stable presence of the major types of bacteria with some exceptions. These studies show that the microbiota of the pigtailed macaques is substantially dissimilar to that found in most healthy humans, where the genital microbiota is usually dominated by Lactobacillus sp. The polymicrobial makeup of the macaque bacterial populations, the paucity of lactobacilli, and the specific types of bacteria present suggest that the pigtailed macaque microbiota could influence vaginal retrovirus infection.
Three models for promoting male circumcision (MC) as a preventative intervention against HIV infection were compared among migrant worker populations in western China.
A cohort study was performed after an initial cross-sectional survey among migrant workers in three provincial level districts with high HIV prevalence in western China. A total of 1,670 HIV seronegative male migrants were cluster-randomized into three intervention models, in which the dissemination of promotional materials and expert- and volunteer-led discussions are conducted in one, two, and three stage interventions. Changes in knowledge of MC, acceptability of MC, MC surgery uptake, and the costs of implementation were analyzed at 6-month and 9-month follow-up visits.
All three models significantly increased the participants’ knowledge about MC. The three-stage model significantly increased the acceptability of MC among participants and led to greatest increase in MC uptake. At the end of follow-up, 9.2% (153/1,670) of participants underwent MC surgery; uptake among the one-, two-, and three-stage models were 4.9%, 9.3%, and 14.6%, respectively. Multivariable Cox regression analysis showed that three-stage model was the most effective method to scale up MC, with RR = 2.0 (95% CI, 1.3-3.1, P=0.002) compared to the on-site session model. The two-stage intervention model showed no significant difference with either the on-site session model (RR=1.5, 95% CI, 0.92-2.4, P=0.12) or three-stage model (P=0.10).
A three-stage intervention with gradual introduction of knowledge led to the significantly increase in MC uptake among migrant workers in western China, and was also the most cost-effective method among the three models.
Preclinical studies of overlapping 15mer peptides, spanning SIV, SHIV or HIV, pulsed on autologous PBMC ex vivo have demonstrated high level, virus-specific T cell responses and viral suppression in non-human primates (NHP). Opal-HIV-Gag(c) consists of 120 synthetic 15mer peptides spanning Clade C, consensus Gag, manufactured to current good manufacturing practice; having been evaluated in a good laboratory practice toxicology study in Macaca mulatta. We evaluated the safety and preliminary immunogenicity of such peptides administered intravenously after short-duration ex vivo incubation, to HIV-positive adults on suppressive antiretroviral therapy.
Methods and Findings
A first-in-human, placebo-controlled, double-blind, dose escalation study was conducted. Twenty-three patients with virus suppressed by antiretroviral therapy were enrolled in four groups 12 mg (n = 6), 24 mg (n = 6), 48 mg (n = 2) or matching placebo (n = 8). Treatment was administered intravenously after bedside enrichment of 120 mL whole blood for white cells using a closed system (Sepax S-100 device), with ex vivo peptide admixture (or diluent alone) and 37°C incubation for one hour prior to reinfusion. Patients received 4 administrations at monthly intervals followed by a 12-week observation post-treatment. Opal-HIV-Gag(c) was reasonably tolerated at doses of 12 and 24 mg. There was an increased incidence of temporally associated pyrexia, chills, and transient/self-limiting lymphopenia in Opal-HIV-Gag(c) recipients compared to placebo. The study was terminated early, after two patients were recruited to the 48 mg cohort; a serious adverse event of hypotension, tachycardia secondary to diarrhoea occurred following a single product administration. An infectious cause for the event could not be identified, leaving the possibility of immunologically mediated product reaction.
A serious, potentially life-threatening event of hypotension led to early, precautionary termination of the study. In the absence of a clearly defined mechanism or ability to predict such occurrence, further development of Opal-HIV-Gag(c) will not be undertaken in the current form.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01123915; EudraCT: 2008-005142-23
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.
Background.Inflammation persists in treated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and may contribute to an increased risk for non–AIDS-related pathologies. We investigated the correlation of cytokine responses with changes in CD4 T-cell levels and coinfection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) during highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART).
Methods.A total of 383 participants in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (212 with HIV monoinfection, 56 with HCV monoinfection, and 115 with HIV/HCV coinfection) were studied. HIV-infected women had <1000 HIV RNA copies/mL, 99.7% had >200 CD4 T cells/μL; 98% were receiving HAART at baseline. Changes in CD4 T-cell count between baseline and 2–4 years later were calculated. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained at baseline were used to measure interleukin 1β (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 10 (IL-10), interleukin 12 (IL-12), and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) responses to Toll-like receptor (TLR) 3 and TLR4 stimulation.
Results.Undetectable HIV RNA (<80 copies/mL) at baseline and secretion of IL-10 by PBMCs were positively associated with gains in CD4 T-cell counts at follow-up. Inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-12, and TNF-α) were also produced in TLR-stimulated cultures, but only IL-10 was significantly associated with sustained increases in CD4 T-cell levels. This association was significant only in women with HIV monoinfection, indicating that HCV coinfection is an important factor limiting gains in CD4 T-cell counts, possibly by contributing to unbalanced persistent inflammation.
Conclusions.Secreted IL-10 from PBMCs may balance the inflammatory environment of HIV, resulting in CD4 T-cell stability.
High-sensitive real-time PCR assays are routinely used to monitor HIV-1 infected subjects. Inter-assay discrepancies have been described at the low viral load (VL) end, where clinical decisions regarding possible virological rebound are based.
A retrospective study was performed to analyze frequencies of viral blips after transition to the COBAS Ampliprep/COBAS TaqMan v2.0 HIV-1 assay (Taqman v2.0) in patients with prior undetectable VLs as measured with the Roche Cobas Ampliprep Amplicor HIV-1 Monitor Test, v1.5 (Amplicor) and was evaluated in comparison to a group of patients monitored with the Abbott Real-time HIV-1 assay (Abbott RT) during the same period of time.
85 of 373 patients with VLs below the limit of quantification with Amplicor had VLs >50 copies/mL after transition to the TaqMan v2.0 assay. Among these 74.1% had VLs ranging from 50–499 copies/mL, 22.9% had VLs >500 copies/mL. From 22 patients with initial Taqman v2.0 based VLs exceeding 500 copies/mL, 6 patients had VLs <20 copies/mL after novel VL measurement on a next visit. In our control group with VL quantification using the Abbott RT assay, only 1 patient became detectable and showed a VL of <40 copies/mL after new measurement.
Transition to the Taqman v2.0 assay was accompanied by an increase of quantifiable HIV-1 VLs in patients with long term viral suppression under antiretroviral therapy that might be attributed to technical shortcomings of the Taqman v2.0 assay. A high test variability at the low VL end but also beyond was observed, making meaningful clinical interpretation of viral blips derived from different assays difficult.
Background. Despite viral suppression, antiretroviral therapy (ART) does not restore CD4+ T-cell counts in many patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1).
Methods. In a single-arm pilot trial involving ART recipients with suppressed plasma levels of HIV-1 RNA for at least 48 weeks and stable suboptimal CD4+ T-cell recovery, subjects added maraviroc, a CCR5 antagonist, to their existing ART for 24 weeks. After stopping maraviroc, they were followed for an additional 24 weeks. A Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to evaluate whether maraviroc was associated with an increase of at least 20 cells/µL in the CD4+ T-cell count.
Results. A total of 34 subjects were enrolled. The median age was 50 years, and the median baseline CD4+ T-cell count was 153 cells/µL. The median increase in CD4+ T-cell count from baseline to week 22/24 was 12 cells/µL (90% confidence interval, 1–22). A CD4+ T-cell count increase of at least 20 cells/µL was not detected (P = .97). Markers of immune activation and apoptosis decreased during maraviroc intensification; this decline partially reversed after discontinuing maraviroc.
Conclusions. Adding maraviroc to suppressive ART for 24 weeks was not associated with an increase in CD4+ T-cell counts of at least 20 cells/µL. Further studies of CCR5 antagonists in the dampening of immune activation associated with HIV infection are warranted.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT 00709111.
Depletion of thymus derived naive T-cells is a feature of HIV infection. Here the impact of HIV infection on the compartmentalization of recent thymic emigrants of (RTE) and naive T-cells was examined.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and lymphoid tissue (LT) from 43 HIV-infected patients and 12 controls were examined for RTE distribution by measuring coding joint T-cell receptor excisional circles (cjTREC) by PCR and naive and memory T-cell subsets and adhesion molecules (L-selection, LFA-1) by flow cytometry.
In HIV-infected patients, the RTE as quantified by cjTRECs in CD4 LT cells were significantly higher than in PBMC. Their values, however, were less than in control subjects, in both the LT and PBMC compartments. This was associated with an increase in L-selectin and LFA-1 expression on LT derived T cells. In PBMC, a significant positive relationship between TREC and naive CD4 cells and an inverse relationship between TREC and cellular viral load (CVL) was observed. Whereas in LT, there was a positive relationship between cjTREC and both naive CD4 cell percentage and CVL.
Collectively, the data suggests that LT is a significant reservoir for RTE. The RTE appeared to be entrapped in LT from HIV-infected subjects. Such entrapment is probably a response to the high viral load in these tissues. These observations may partially explain the decline in RTE observed in the peripheral blood of HIV-infected patients, and the delay in recovery of naive cells in blood after initiation of HAART.
Naive T cells; recent thymic emigrants; TRECs; HIV; AIDS
Non-AIDS–defining comorbidities that occur despite viral suppression and immune reconstitution using antiretroviral therapy depict early aging process in HIV-infected individuals. During aging, a reduction in T-cell renewal, together with a progressive enrichment of terminally differentiated T cells, translates into a general decline of the immune system, gradually leading to immunosenescence. Inflammation is a hallmark of age-associated comorbidities, and immune activation is a hallmark of HIV disease. Constant stimulation of the immune system by HIV or due to co-infections activates the innate and adaptive immune system, resulting in release of mediators of inflammation. Immune activation coupled with lack of anti-inflammatory responses likely results in accelerated aging in HIV disease. Dysfunctional thymic output, along with HIV-mediated disruption of the gastrointestinal barrier leading to microbial translocation, contributes to the circulating antigenic load driving early senescence in HIV disease.
Inflammation and hemostasis perturbation may be involved in vascular complications of HIV infection. We examined atherogenic biomarkers and subclinical atherosclerosis in HIV-infected adults before and after beginning highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
In the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), 127 HIV-infected women studied pre- and post-HAART were matched to HIV-uninfected controls. Six semi-annual measurements of soluble CD14, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, soluble interleukin (IL)-2 receptor, IL-6, IL-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, D-dimer, and fibrinogen were obtained. Carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) was measured by B-mode ultrasound.
Relative to HIV-uninfected controls, HAART-naïve HIV-infected women had elevated levels of soluble CD14 (1945 vs 1662 ng/mL, Wilcoxon signed rank P<0.0001), TNF-alpha (6.3 vs 3.4 pg/mL, P<0.0001), soluble IL-2 receptor (1587 vs 949 pg/mL, P<0.0001), IL-10 (3.3 vs 1.9 pg/mL, P<0.0001), MCP-1 (190 vs 163 pg/mL, P<0.0001) and D-dimer (0.43 vs 0.31 µg/mL, P<0.01). Elevated biomarker levels declined after HAART. While most biomarkers normalized to HIV-uninfected levels, in women on effective HAART, TNF-alpha levels remained elevated compared to HIV-uninfected women (+0.8 pg/mL, P=0.0002). Higher post-HAART levels of soluble IL-2 receptor (P=0.02), IL-6 (P=0.05), and D-dimer (P=0.03) were associated with increased CIMT.
Untreated HIV infection is associated with abnormal hemostasis (e.g., D-dimer), and pro-atherogenic (e.g., TNF-alpha) and anti-atherogenic (e.g., IL-10) inflammatory markers. HAART reduces most inflammatory mediators to HIV-uninfected levels. Increased inflammation and hemostasis are associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in recently treated women. These findings have potential implications for long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected patients, even with effective therapy.
antiretroviral therapy; cardiovascular diseases; cytokines; hemostasis; HIV; inflammation
Technically, HIV-1 tropism can be evaluated in plasma or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). However, only tropism testing of plasma HIV-1 has been validated as a tool to predict virological response to CCR5 antagonists in clinical trials. The preferable tropism testing strategy in subjects with undetectable HIV-1 viremia, in whom plasma tropism testing is not feasible, remains uncertain.
Methods & Results
We designed a proof-of-concept study including 30 chronically HIV-1-infected individuals who achieved HIV-1 RNA <50 copies/mL during at least 2 years after first-line ART initiation. First, we determined the diagnostic accuracy of 454 and population sequencing of gp120 V3-loops in plasma and PBMCs, as well as of MT-2 assays before ART initiation. The Enhanced Sensitivity Trofile Assay (ESTA) was used as the technical reference standard. 454 sequencing of plasma viruses provided the highest agreement with ESTA. The accuracy of 454 sequencing decreased in PBMCs due to reduced specificity. Population sequencing in plasma and PBMCs was slightly less accurate than plasma 454 sequencing, being less sensitive but more specific. MT-2 assays had low sensitivity but 100% specificity. Then, we used optimized 454 sequence data to investigate viral evolution in PBMCs during viremia suppression and only found evolution of R5 viruses in one subject. No de novo CXCR4-using HIV-1 production was observed over time. Finally, Slatkin-Maddison tests suggested that plasma and cell-associated V3 forms were sometimes compartmentalized.
The absence of tropism shifts during viremia suppression suggests that, when available, testing of stored plasma samples is generally safe and informative, provided that HIV-1 suppression is maintained. Tropism testing in PBMCs may not necessarily produce equivalent biological results to plasma, because the structure of viral populations and the diagnostic performance of tropism assays may sometimes vary between compartments. Thereby, proviral DNA tropism testing should be specifically validated in clinical trials before it can be applied to routine clinical decision-making.