Background. Diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is a public health priority, particularly in regions where the incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is high. In most developing countries, STIs are managed syndromically. We assessed the adequacy of syndromic diagnosis of STIs, compared with laboratory diagnosis of STIs, and evaluated the association between STI diagnosis and the risk of HIV acquisition in a cohort of high-risk women.
Methods. HIV-uninfected high-risk women (n = 242) were followed for 24 months. Symptoms of STIs were recorded, and laboratory diagnosis of common STI pathogens was conducted every 6 months. Forty-two cytokines were measured by Luminex in cervicovaginal lavage specimens at enrollment. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection was evaluated monthly.
Results. Only 12.3% of women (25 of 204) who had a laboratory-diagnosed, discharge-causing STI had clinically evident discharge. Vaginal discharge was thus a poor predictor of laboratory-diagnosed STIs (sensitivity, 12.3%; specificity, 93.8%). Cervicovaginal cytokine concentrations did not differ between women with asymptomatic STIs and those with symptomatic STIs and were elevated in women with asymptomatic STIs, compared with women with no STIs or bacterial vaginosis. Although laboratory-diagnosed STIs were associated with increased risk of HIV infection (hazard ratio, 3.3 [95% confidence interval, 1.5–7.2)], clinical symptoms were not.
Conclusions. Syndromic STI diagnosis dependent on vaginal discharge was poorly predictive of laboratory-diagnosed STI. Laboratory-diagnosed STIs were associated with increased susceptibility to HIV acquisition, while vaginal discharge was not.
Certain immune-driven mutations in HIV-1, such as those arising in p24Gag, decrease viral replicative capacity. However, the intersubtype differences in the replicative consequences of such mutations have not been explored. In HIV-1 subtype B, the p24Gag M250I mutation is a rare variant (0.6%) that is enriched among elite controllers (7.2%) (P = 0.0005) and appears to be a rare escape variant selected by HLA-B58 supertype alleles (P < 0.01). In contrast, in subtype C, it is a relatively common minor polymorphic variant (10 to 15%) whose appearance is not associated with a particular HLA allele. Using site-directed mutant viruses, we demonstrate that M250I reduces in vitro viral replicative capacity in both subtype B and subtype C sequences. However, whereas in subtype C downstream compensatory mutations at p24Gag codons 252 and 260 reduce the adverse effects of M250I, fitness costs in subtype B appear difficult to restore. Indeed, patient-derived subtype B sequences harboring M250I exhibited in vitro replicative defects, while those from subtype C did not. The structural implications of M250I were predicted by protein modeling to be greater in subtype B versus C, providing a potential explanation for its lower frequency and enhanced replicative defects in subtype B. In addition to accounting for genetic differences between HIV-1 subtypes, the design of cytotoxic-T-lymphocyte-based vaccines may need to account for differential effects of host-driven viral evolution on viral fitness.
The generation of polyfunctional CD8+ T cells, in response to vaccination or natural infection, has been associated with improved protective immunity. However, it is unclear whether the maintenance of polyfunctionality is related to particular cellular phenotypic characteristics. To determine whether the cytokine expression profile is linked to the memory differentiation stage, we analyzed the degree of polyfunctionality of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells within different memory subpopulations in 20 ART-naïve HIV-1 infected individuals at approximately 34 weeks post infection. These profiles were compared with CMV-specific CD8+ T cell responses in HIV-uninfected controls and in individuals chronically infected with HIV. Our results showed that the polyfunctional abilities of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells differed according to their memory phenotype. Early-differentiated cells (CD45RO+CD27+) exhibited a higher proportion of cells positive for three or four functions (p<0.001), and a lower proportion of mono-functional cells (p<0.001) compared to terminally-differentiated (CD45RO−CD27−) HIV-specific CD8+ T cells. The majority of terminally-differentiated HIV-specific CD8+ T cells were mono-functional (median 69% [IQR: 57–83]), producing predominantly CD107a or MIP1β. Moreover, proportions of HIV-specific mono-functional CD8+ T cells positively associated with proportions of terminally-differentiated HIV-specific CD8+ T cells (p=0.019, r=0.54). In contrast, CMV-specific CD8+ T cell polyfunctional capacities were similar across all memory subpopulations, with terminally- and early-differentiated cells endowed with comparable polyfunctionality. Overall, these data show that the polyfunctional abilities of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells are influenced by the stage of memory differentiation, which is not the case for CMV-specific responses.
In settings where multiple HIV prevention trials are conducted in close proximity, trial participants may attempt to enroll in more than one trial simultaneously. Co-enrollment impacts on participant’s safety and validity of trial results. We describe our experience, remedial action taken, inter-organizational collaboration and lessons learnt following the identification of co-enrolled participants.
Between February and April 2008, we identified 185 of the 398 enrolled participants as ineligible. In violation of the study protocol exclusion criteria, there was simultaneous enrollment in another HIV prevention trial (ineligible co-enrolled, n=135), and enrollment of women who had participated in a microbicide trial within the past 12 months (ineligible not co-enrolled, n=50). Following a complete audit of all enrolled participants, ineligible participants were discontinued via study exit visits from trial follow-up. Custom-designed education program on co-enrollment impacting on participants’ safety and validity of the trial results were implemented. Shared electronic database between research units were established to enable verification of each volunteer’s trial participation and to prevent future co-enrollments.
Interviews with ineligible enrolled women revealed that high-quality care; financial incentives; altruistic motives; preference for sex with gel; wanting to increase their likelihood of receiving active gel; perceived low risk of discovery and peer pressure as the reasons for their enrolment in the CAPRISA 004 trial.
Instituting education programs based on the reasons reported by women for seeking enrolment in more than one trial and using a shared central database system to identify co-enrollments have effectively prevented further co-enrollments.
HIV prevention trials; co-enrollment; young women
Background. The biggest challenge in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) prevention in Africa is the high HIV-1 burden in young women. In macaques, proinflammatory cytokine production in the genital tract is necessary for target cell recruitment and establishment of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection following vaginal inoculation. The purpose of this study was to assess if genital inflammation during early HIV-1 infection predisposes women to rapid disease progression.
Methods. Inflammatory cytokine concentrations were measured in cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) from 49 women 6, 17, 30, and 55 weeks after HIV-1 infection and from 22 of these women before infection. Associations between genital inflammation and viral load set point and blood CD4 cell counts 12 months after infection were investigated.
Results. Elevated genital cytokine concentrations 6 and 17 weeks after HIV-1 infection were associated with higher viral load set points and, to a lesser extent, with CD4 depletion. CVL cytokine concentrations during early infection did not differ relative to preinfection but were elevated in women who had vaginal discharge, detectable HIV-1 RNA in their genital tracts, and lower blood CD4 counts.
Conclusion. Genital inflammation during early HIV-1 infection was associated with higher viral load set point and CD4 depletion, which are markers of rapid disease progression. Strategies aimed at reducing genital inflammation during early HIV-1 infection may slow disease progression.
Previously, we determined the incidence of dual infections in a South African cohort and its association with higher viral setpoint. Ten years later, we compare the incidence and impact of dual infections at transmission on viral setpoint in a geographically similar cohort (n = 46) making use of both the heteroduplex mobility assay (HMA) and the more recent single genome amplification (SGA) approach. HIV incidence was lower in this cohort (7% compared to 18%), and we find a similar reduction in the number of dual infections (9% compared to 19%). Unlike the previous study, there was no association between either dual infection (n = 4) or multivariant transmission (n = 7) and disease progression. This study emphasized the importance of monitoring changes in the HIV epidemic as it may have important ramifications on our understanding of the natural history of disease.
In the absence of HIV-1 Vif, cellular cytosine deaminases such as APOBEC3G, inhibit the virus by inducing hypermutations on viral DNA, among other mechanisms of action. We investigated the association of APOBEC3G mRNA levels and APOBEC3G genetic variants on HIV-1 susceptibility, and early disease pathogenesis using viral load and CD4+ T cell counts as outcomes.
Study subjects were 250 South African females at high risk for HIV-1C infection. We used quantitative real-time PCR to measure the expression of APOBEC3G in HIV−ve and HIV+ve primary infection samples. APOBEC3G variants were identified by DNA re-sequencing and TaqMan genotyping.
We found no correlation between APOBEC3G expression levels and plasma viral loads (r=0.053, p=0.596) or CD4+ T cell counts (r=0.030, p=0.762) in 32 seroconverters. However, APOBEC3G expression levels were significantly higher in HIV−ve individuals compared to HIV+ve individuals (p<0.0001), including matched pre- and post infection samples from the same individuals (n=13, p<0.0001). 25 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), nine of which were novel, were identified within APOBEC3G by re-sequencing followed by genotyping of 168 individuals. The H186R mutation, a codon changing variant in exon 4, was associated with high viral loads (p=0.0097) and decreased CD4+ T cell levels (p=0.0081).
These data suggest that APOBEC3G transcription is rapidly downregulated upon HIV-1 infection. During primary infection, APOBEC3G expression levels in PBMCs do not correlate with viral loads or CD4+ T cell counts. However, structural variation of APOBEC3G may significantly affect early HIV-1 pathogenesis, although the mechanism remains unclear and warrants further investigation.
APOBEC3G; HIV-1 C; Primary Infection; mRNA Expression; Polymorphisms; Host proteins
LEDGF/p75, encoded by the PSIP1 gene, interacts with HIV-1 integrase and targets HIV-1 integration into active genes. We investigated the influence of polymorphisms in PSIP1 on HIV-1 acquisition and disease progression in black South Africans.
Integrase binding domain (IBD) of LEDGF/p75 was sequenced in 126 participants. Four haplotype tagging SNPs, SNP1-SNP4 and one exonic SNP, SNP5 were genotyped in 195 HIV-1 seronegative, 52 primary and 403 chronically infected individuals using TaqMan assays. LEDGF/p75 expression was quantified by real-time RT-PCR. The impact of Q472L mutation on the interaction with HIV-1 IN was measured by AlphaScreen.
rs2277191A was more frequent among seropositives (p=0.06, Fisher's exact test), and among individuals followed longitudinally trended towards association with higher likelihood of HIV-1 acquisition (RH=2.21, p=0.08; Cox model) and it was also associated with rapid disease progression (RH=5.98, p=0.04; Cox model). rs12339417C was associated with slower decline of CD4+ T cell (p=0.02) and lower levels of LEDGF/p75 (p<0.01). Seroconverters had higher preinfection levels of LEDGF/p75 (p<0.01) but levels decreased after HIV infection (p=0.02).
Genetic variants of PSIP1 may affect HIV-1 outcomes. Further studies are needed to confirm the effect of genetic variation of PSIP1 on HIV-1 pathogenesis in different cohorts.
Griffithsin (GRFT), Cyanovirin-N (CV-N) and Scytovirin (SVN) are lectins that inhibit HIV-1 infection by binding to multiple mannose-rich glycans on the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Env). Here we show that these lectins neutralize subtype C primary virus isolates in addition to Env-pseudotyped viruses obtained from plasma and cervical vaginal lavages. Among 15 subtype C pseudoviruses, the median IC50 values were 0.4, 1.8 and 20.1 nM for GRFT, CV-N and SVN, respectively, similar to what was found for subtype B and A. Analysis of Env sequences suggested that concomitant lack of glycans at positions 234 and 295 resulted in natural resistance to these compounds, which was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis. Furthermore, the binding sites for these lectins overlapped that of the 2G12 monoclonal antibody epitope, which is generally absent on subtype C Env. This data support further research on these lectins as potential microbicides in the context of HIV-1 subtype C infection.
Griffithsin; Cyanovirin-N; Scytovirin; lectins; HIV-1 subtype C; microbicides; 2G12 monoclonal antibody
The Duffy-null trait and ethnic neutropenia are highly prevalent in Africa. The authors found that the trait of Duffy-null–associated low neutrophil counts associated with increased HIV-1 susceptibility. The possible contribution of this trait to the high prevalence of HIV-1 in Africa requires further investigation
Background. The Duffy-null trait and ethnic netropenia are both highly prevalent in Africa. The influence of pre-seroconversion levels of peripheral blood cell counts (PBCs) on the risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–1 infection among Africans is unknown.
Methods. The triangular relationship among pre-seroconversion PBC counts, host genotypes, and risk of HIV acquisition was determined in a prospective cohort of black South African high-risk female sex workers. Twenty-seven women had seroconversion during follow-up, and 115 remained HIV negative for 2 years, despite engaging in high-risk activity.
Results. Pre-seroconversion neutrophil counts in women who subsequently had seroconversion were significantly lower, whereas platelet counts were higher, compared with those who remained HIV negative. Comprising 27% of the cohort, subjects with pre-seroconversion neutrophil counts of <2500 cells/mm3 had a ∼3-fold greater risk of acquiring HIV infection. In a genome-wide association analyses, an African-specific polymorphism (rs2814778) in the promoter of Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC −46T > C) was significantly associated with neutrophil counts (P = 7.9 × 10−11). DARC −46C/C results in loss of DARC expression on erthyrocytes (Duffy-null) and resistance to Plasmodium vivax malaria, and in our cohort, only subjects with this genotype had pre-seroconversion neutrophil counts of <2500 cells/mm3. The risk of acquiring HIV infection was ∼3-fold greater in those with the trait of Duffy-null–associated low neutrophil counts, compared with all other study participants.
Conclusions. Pre-seroconversion neutrophil and platelet counts influence risk of HIV infection. The trait of Duffy-null–associated low neutrophil counts influences HIV susceptibility. Because of the high prevalence of this trait among persons of African ancestry, it may contribute to the dynamics of the HIV epidemic in Africa.
HIV prevention trials are increasingly being conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. Women at risk for HIV are also at risk of pregnancy. To maximize safety, women agree to avoid pregnancy during trials, yet pregnancies occur. Using data from the HVTN 503/“Phambili” vaccine trial, we report pregnancy incidence during and after the vaccination period and identify factors, measured at screening, associated with incident pregnancy.
To enrol in the trial, women agreed and were supported to avoid pregnancy until 1 month after their third and final vaccination (“vaccination period”), corresponding to the first 7 months of follow-up. Unsterilized women, pooled across study arms, were analyzed. Poisson regression compared pregnancy rates during and after the vaccination period. Cox proportional hazards regression identified associations with first pregnancy.
Among 352 women (median age 23 yrs; median follow-up 1.5 yrs), pregnancy incidence was 9.6/100 women-years overall and 6.8/100 w-yrs and 11.3/100 w-yrs during and after the vaccination period, respectively [Rate Ratio = 0.60 (0.32–1.14), p = 0.10]. In multivariable analysis, pregnancy was reduced among women who: enrolled at sites providing contraception on-site [HR = 0.43, 95% CI (0.22–0.86)]; entered the trial as injectable contraceptive users [HR = 0.37 (0.21–0.67)] or as consistent condom users (trend) [HR = 0.54 (0.28–1.04)]. Compared with women with a single partner of HIV-unknown status, pregnancy rates were increased among women with: a single partner whose status was HIV-negative [HR = 2.34(1.16–4.73)] and; 2 partners both of HIV-unknown status [HR = 4.42(1.59–12.29)]. Women with 2 more of these risk factors: marijuana use, heavy drinking, or use of either during sex, had increased pregnancy incidence [HR = 2.66 (1.24–5.72)].
It is possible to screen South African women for pregnancy risk at trial entry. Providing injectable contraception for free on-site and supporting consistent condom use may reduce incident pregnancy. Screening should determine the substance use, partnering, and HIV status of both members of the couple for both pregnancy and HIV prevention.
SA National Health Research Database DOH-27-0207-1539; Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00413725
Young women are at disproportionate risk of HIV infection in South Africa. Understanding risk behaviors and factors associated with ability to negotiate safe sex and condom use is likely to be key in curbing the spread of HIV. Traditionally prevention efforts have focused on creating behavioral changes by increasing knowledge about HIV/AIDS.
This was a cross-sectional analysis from a prospective observational cohort study of 245 women at a high-risk of HIV infection in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Participants demonstrated a high level of HIV/AIDS knowledge. Overall, 60.3% of participants reported condom use. Reported condom use at last sexual encounter varied slightly by partner type (57.0% with steady versus 64.4% with casual partners), and self-perceived ability to choose to use a condom was significantly lower with steady partners compared to casual partners (p<0.01). In multivariate analysis, women who had high school education were more likely to use condoms at their last sex encounter compared to those with only primary school education (RR of 1.36 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.06–1.75) and 1.46 (95% CI 1.13–1.88) for grades 8–10 and 11–12, respectively). Those who used condoms as a contraceptive method were twice as likely to use condoms compared to women who did not report using them as a contraceptive method. Greater perceived ability to choose to use condoms was associated with higher self-reported condom use at last encounter, irrespective of partner type (RR = 2.65 (95% CI 2.15–32.5).
Self-perceived ability to use condoms, level of formal education and condom use as a contraceptive were all significantly associated with self-reported condom use at last sexual encounter. These findings suggest that that gender inequality and access to formal education, as opposed to lack of HIV/AIDS knowledge, prevent safer sexual practices in South Africa.
An understanding of how broadly neutralizing activity develops in HIV-1-infected individuals is needed to guide vaccine design and immunization strategies. Here we used a large panel of 44 HIV-1 envelope variants (subtypes A, B, and C) to evaluate the presence of broadly neutralizing antibodies in serum samples obtained 3 years after seroconversion from 40 women enrolled in the CAPRISA 002 acute infection cohort. Seven of 40 participants had serum antibodies that neutralized more than 40% of viruses tested and were considered to have neutralization breadth. Among the samples with breadth, CAP257 serum neutralized 82% (36/44 variants) of the panel, while CAP256 serum neutralized 77% (33/43 variants) of the panel. Analysis of longitudinal samples showed that breadth developed gradually starting from year 2, with the number of viruses neutralized as well as the antibody titer increasing over time. Interestingly, neutralization breadth peaked at 4 years postinfection, with no increase thereafter. The extent of cross-neutralizing activity correlated with CD4+ T cell decline, viral load, and CD4+ T cell count at 6 months postinfection but not at later time points, suggesting that early events set the stage for the development of breadth. However, in a multivariate analysis, CD4 decline was the major driver of this association, as viral load was not an independent predictor of breadth. Mapping of the epitopes targeted by cross-neutralizing antibodies revealed that in one individual these antibodies recognized the membrane-proximal external region (MPER), while in two other individuals, cross-neutralizing activity was adsorbed by monomeric gp120 and targeted epitopes that involved the N-linked glycan at position 332 in the C3 region. Serum antibodies from the other four participants targeted quaternary epitopes, at least 2 of which were PG9/16-like and depended on the N160 and/or L165 residue in the V2 region. These data indicate that fewer than 20% of HIV-1 subtype C-infected individuals develop antibodies with cross-neutralizing activity after 3 years of infection and that these antibodies target different regions of the HIV-1 envelope, including as yet uncharacterized epitopes.
The targets of broadly cross-neutralizing (BCN) antibodies are of great interest in the HIV vaccine field. We have identified a subtype C HIV-1-superinfected individual, CAP256, with high-level BCN activity, and characterized the antibody specificity mediating breadth. CAP256 developed potent BCN activity peaking at 3 years postinfection, neutralizing 32 (76%) of 42 heterologous viruses, with titers of antibodies against some viruses exceeding 1:10,000. CAP256 showed a subtype bias, preferentially neutralizing subtype C and A viruses over subtype B viruses. CAP256 BCN serum targeted a quaternary epitope which included the V1V2 region. Further mapping identified residues F159, N160, L165, R166, D167, K169, and K171 (forming the FN/LRD-K-K motif) in the V2 region as crucial to the CAP256 epitope. However, the fine specificity of the BCN response varied over time and, while consistently dependent on R166 and K169, became gradually less dependent on D167 and K171, possibly contributing to the incremental increase in breadth over 4 years. The presence of an intact FN/LRD-K-K motif in heterologous viruses was associated with sensitivity, although the length of the adjacent V1 loop modulated the degree of sensitivity, with a shorter V1 region significantly associated with higher titers. Repair of the FN/LRD-K-K motif in resistant heterologous viruses conferred sensitivity, with titers sometimes exceeding 1:10,000. Comparison of the CAP256 epitope with that of the PG9/PG16 monoclonal antibodies suggested that these epitopes overlapped, adding to the mounting evidence that this may represent a common neutralization target that should be further investigated as a potential vaccine candidate.
The CAPRISA 004 trial assessed effectiveness and safety of a 1% vaginal gel formulation of tenofovir, a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor, for the prevention of HIV acquisition in women. A double-blind, randomized controlled trial was conducted comparing tenofovir gel (n=445) with placebo gel (n=444) in sexually active, HIV-uninfected 18-40 year-old women in urban and rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa HIV serostatus, safety, sexual behavior and gel and condom use were assessed at monthly follow-up visits for 30 months. HIV incidence in the tenofovir gel arm was 5.6 per 100 women-years (wy), i.e. person time of study observation, (38/680.6wy) compared to 9.1 per 100 wy (60/660.7wy) in the placebo gel arm (Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR)=0.61; p=0.017).In high adherers (gel adherence >80%), HIV incidence was 54% lower (p=0.025) in the tenofovir gel arm. In intermediate adherers (gel adherence 50-80%) and low adherers (gel adherence < 50%) the HIV incidence reduction was 38% and 28% respectively. Tenofovir gel reduced HIV acquisition by an estimated 39% overall, and by 54% in women with high gel adherence. No increase in the overall adverse event rates was observed. There were no changes in viral load and no tenofovir resistance in HIV seroconvertors. Tenofovir gel could potentially fill an important HIV prevention gap, especially for women unable to successfully negotiate mutual monogamy or condom use.
IL-10 directly inhibits HIV-1 replication but it may also promote viral persistence by inactivation of effector immune mechanisms. Here we show in an African cohort that individuals with genotypes associated with high IL-10 production at two promoter single nucleotide polymorphisms (-1082 and -592) were less likely to become HIV-1 infected, but had significantly higher median plasma viral loads during the acute phase (≤ 3 months post infection). However, as the infection progressed, the hierarchical genotype/median viral load pattern was reversed. Thus IL-10 may influence HIV-1 susceptibility and pathogenesis but effects on the latter may differ according to the infection phase.
IL-10; HIV-1 subtype C; viral load; HIV-1 susceptibility; HIV-1 pathogenesis
Type 1 interferons (IFNs) induce the expression of the tripartite interaction motif (TRIM) family of E3 ligases, but the contribution of these antiviral factors to HIV pathogenesis is not completely understood. We hypothesized that the increased expression of select type 1 IFN and TRIM isoforms is associated with a significantly lower likelihood of HIV-1 acquisition and viral control during primary HIV-1 infection. We measured IFN-α, IFN-β, myxovirus resistance protein A (MxA), human TRIM5α (huTRIM5α), and TRIM22 mRNA levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of high-risk, HIV-1-uninfected participants and HIV-1-positive study participants. Samples were available for 32 uninfected subjects and 28 infected persons, all within 1 year of infection. HIV-1-positive participants had higher levels of IFN-β (P = 0.0005), MxA (P = 0.007), and TRIM22 (P = 0.01) and lower levels of huTRIM5α (P < 0.001) than did HIV-1-negative participants. TRIM22 but not huTRIM5α correlated positively with type 1 IFN (IFN-α, IFN-β, and MxA) (all P < 0.0001). In a multivariate model, increased MxA expression showed a significant positive association with viral load (P = 0.0418). Furthermore, TRIM22 but not huTRIM5α, IFN-α, IFN-β, or MxA showed a negative correlation with plasma viral load (P = 0.0307) and a positive correlation with CD4+ T-cell counts (P = 0.0281). In vitro studies revealed that HIV infection induced TRIM22 expression in PBMCs obtained from HIV-negative donors. Stable TRIM22 knockdown resulted in increased HIV-1 particle release and replication in Jurkat reporter cells. Collectively, these data suggest concordance between type 1 IFN and TRIM22 but not huTRIM5α expression in PBMCs and that TRIM22 likely acts as an antiviral effector in vivo.
Deciphering immune events during early stages of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is critical for understanding the course of disease. We characterized the hierarchy of HIV-1-specific T-cell gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay responses during acute subtype C infection in 53 individuals and associated temporal patterns of responses with disease progression in the first 12 months. There was a diverse pattern of T-cell recognition across the proteome, with the recognition of Nef being immunodominant as early as 3 weeks postinfection. Over the first 6 months, we found that there was a 23% chance of an increased response to Nef for every week postinfection (P = 0.0024), followed by a nonsignificant increase to Pol (4.6%) and Gag (3.2%). Responses to Env and regulatory proteins appeared to remain stable. Three temporal patterns of HIV-specific T-cell responses could be distinguished: persistent, lost, or new. The proportion of persistent T-cell responses was significantly lower (P = 0.0037) in individuals defined as rapid progressors than in those progressing slowly and who controlled viremia. Almost 90% of lost T-cell responses were coincidental with autologous viral epitope escape. Regression analysis between the time to fixed viral escape and lost T-cell responses (r = 0.61; P = 0.019) showed a mean delay of 14 weeks after viral escape. Collectively, T-cell epitope recognition is not a static event, and temporal patterns of IFN-γ-based responses exist. This is due partly to viral sequence variation but also to the recognition of invariant viral epitopes that leads to waves of persistent T-cell immunity, which appears to associate with slower disease progression in the first year of infection.
Both T cell activation during early HIV-1 infection and soluble markers of immune activation during chronic infection are predictive of HIV disease progression. Although the acute phase of HIV infection is associated with increased pro-inflammatory cytokine production, the relationship between cytokine concentrations and HIV pathogenesis is unknown.
To identify cytokine biomarkers measurable in plasma during acute HIV-1 infection that predict HIV disease progression.
Study including 40 South African women who became infected with HIV-1 and were followed longitudinally from the time of infection.
The concentrations of 30 cytokines in plasma from women with acute HIV-1 infection were measured and associations between cytokine levels and both viral load set-point 12 months post-infection and time taken for CD4 counts to fall below 350 cells/μl were determined using multivariate and Cox proportional-hazards regression.
We found that the concentrations of 5 plasma cytokines, IL-12p40, IL-12p70, IFN-γ, IL-7 and IL-15, in women with acute infection predicted 66% of the variation in viral load set-point 12 months post infection. IL-12p40, IL-12p70 and IFN-γ were significantly associated with lower viral load whereas IL-7 and IL-15 were associated with higher viral load. Plasma concentrations of IL-12p40 and GM-CSF during acute infection were associated with maintenance of CD4 counts above 350 cells/μl while IL-1α, eotaxin and IL-7 were associated with more rapid CD4 loss.
A small panel of plasma cytokines during acute HIV-1 infection was predictive of long-term HIV disease prognosis in this group of South African women.
HIV-1; cytokines; acute infection; viral load; disease progression
Young women in sub-Saharan Africa bear a disproportionate burden of HIV infection compared to men but have limited options to reduce their HIV risk. Microbicides could fill an important HIV prevention gap for sexually active women who are unable to successfully negotiate mutual monogamy or condom use.
This paper describes the baseline sample characteristics in the CAPRISA 004 trial which assessed the safety and effectiveness of the vaginal microbicide, 1% tenofovir gel for HIV prevention in South Africa.
This analysis assessed the baseline demographic, clinical and sexual behavior data of women screened and enrolled into the trial. The characteristics were summarized using descriptive summary measures; expressed as means and percent for categorical variables.
HIV prevalence at screening was 25.8% [95% Confidence Interval (CI):23.9-27.7). Of the 889 eligibly enrolled women who contributed follow-up data, rural participants recruited from a family planning (FP) clinic were younger, more likely to be living apart from their regular partner, reported lower coital frequency, had lower condom use (p < 0.001). In contrast, urban participants recruited from a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic reported higher numbers of lifetime sexual partners, new partners in the last 30 days and receiving money in exchange for sex (p < 0.001).
The populations selected provide suitable diverse target groups for HIV prevention intervention studies.
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT 00441298
HIV-Selectest is a serodiagnostic enzyme immunoassay (EIA), containing p6 and gp41 peptides, designed to differentiate between vaccine-induced antibodies and true infections. A rapid test version of the HIV-Selectest was developed. Both assays detected HIV antibodies in men and women within 2 to 4 weeks of infection, with sensitivity similar to third-generation EIAs.
We identified three cross-neutralizing plasma samples with high-titer anti-membrane proximal external region (MPER) peptide binding antibodies from among 156 chronically human immunodeficiency virus type 1-infected individuals. In order to establish if these antibodies were directly responsible for the observed neutralization breadth, we used MPER-coated magnetic beads to deplete plasmas of these specific antibodies. Depletion of anti-MPER antibodies from BB34, CAP206, and SAC21 resulted in 77%, 68%, and 46% decreases, respectively, in the number of viruses neutralized. Antibodies eluted from the beads showed neutralization profiles similar to those of the original plasmas, with potencies comparable to those of the known anti-MPER monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), 4E10, 2F5, and Z13e1. The anti-MPER neutralizing antibodies in BB34 were present in the immunoglobulin G3 subclass-enriched fraction. Alanine scanning of the MPER showed that the antibodies from these three plasmas had specificities distinct from those of the known MAbs, requiring one to three crucial residues at positions 670, 673, and 674. These data demonstrate the existence of MPER-specific cross-neutralizing antibodies in plasma, although the ability to elicit such potent antiviral antibodies during natural infection appears to be rare. Nevertheless, the identification of three novel antibody specificities within the MPER supports its further study as a promising target for vaccine design.
Understanding early immunological events during HIV-1 infection that may set the course of disease progression is important for identifying correlates of viral control. This study explores the association of differentiation profiles of HIV-specific and total memory CD8+ T cells with viral set point. A cohort of 47 HIV-1-infected individuals, with differing viral set points at 12 mo, were recruited during acute infection. We identified that the magnitude of IFN-γ+ T cell responses at 6 mo postinfection did not associate with viral set point at 12 mo. A subset of 16 individuals was further studied to characterize CD8+ T cells for expression patterns of markers for memory differentiation, survival (CD127), senescence (CD57), and negative regulation (programmed death-1). We show that viral control and the predicted tempo of HIV disease progression in the first year of infection was associated with a synchronous differentiation of HIV-specific and total CD8+ memory subpopulations. At 6–9 mo postinfection, those with low viral set points had a significantly higher proportion of early differentiated HIV-specific and total memory CD8+ cells of a central memory (CD45RO+CD27+CCR7+) and intermediate memory (CD45RO−CD27+CCR7−) phenotype. Those with high viral set points possessed significantly larger frequencies of effector memory (CD45RO+CD27−CCR7−) cells. The proportions of memory subsets significantly correlated with CD38+CD8+ T cells. Thus, it is likely that a high Ag burden resulting in generalized immune activation may drive differentiation of HIV-specific and total memory CD8+ T cells.
We previously showed that HIV-1 subtype C viruses elicit potent but highly type-specific neutralizing antibodies (nAb) within the first year of infection. In order to determine the specificity and evolution of these autologous nAbs, we examined neutralization escape in four individuals whose responses against the earliest envelope differed in magnitude and potency. Neutralization escape occurred in all participants, with later viruses showing decreased sensitivity to contemporaneous sera, although they retained sensitivity to new nAb responses. Early nAb responses were very restricted, occurring sequentially and targeting only two regions of the envelope. In V1V2, limited amino acid changes often involving indels or glycans, mediated partial or complete escape, with nAbs targeting the V1V2 region directly in 2 cases. The alpha-2 helix of C3 was also a nAb target, with neutralization escape associated with changes to positively charged residues. In one individual, relatively high titers of anti-C3 nAbs were required to drive genetic escape, taking up to 7 weeks for the resistant variant to predominate. Thereafter titers waned but were still measurable. Development of this single anti-C3 nAb specificity was associated with a 7-fold drop in HIV-1 viral load and a 4-fold rebound as the escape mutation emerged. Overall, our data suggest the development of a very limited number of neutralizing antibody specificities during the early stages of HIV-1 subtype C infection, with temporal fluctuations in specificities as escape occurs. While the mechanism of neutralization escape appears to vary between individuals, the involvement of limited regions suggests there might be common vulnerabilities in the HIV-1 subtype C transmitted envelope.
Most HIV-1 infected individuals develop neutralizing antibodies against their own virus, termed an autologous neutralizing response. It is known that this response exerts pressure on the envelope of HIV, the target of such antibodies, resulting in neutralization escape. Here we have identified the targets of these antibodies and the precise genetic basis of neutralization escape in 4 individuals infected with HIV-1 subtype C. We show that V1V2 is commonly involved in escape, and that the C3 region is also a target in some cases. The latter observation confirms this region is exposed in subtype C, unlike subtype B. We show that neutralization escape is conferred by a few amino acid mutations, some of which are outside the antibody target site. Moreover, escape from these limited specificities even within a single individual occurs via a variety of different pathways involving substitutions, indels and glycan shifts. The finding in 2 individuals that an anti-C3 response developed first, followed by an anti-V1V2 response, suggests there may be specific regions of envelope particularly vulnerable to antibody neutralization. Overall, we propose a mechanistic explanation for how HIV-1 epitopes drive sequential waves of neutralization escape in early subtype C infection.
Human TRIM5α (TRIM5αhu), a member of the tripartite motif protein family, displays some anti–human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) activity in vitro, although it is substantially less potent than its rhesus monkey counterpart (TRIM5αrh). The effects of levels of TRIM5αhu on prevention or control of HIV-1 infection in vivo are unknown.
We used a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to measure levels of TRIM5αhu expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from a cohort of individuals at high risk for HIV-1 infection in Durban, South Africa. Samples were available from 38 infected subjects (with all these samples obtained within 1 year of infection) and from 57 uninfected persons. Matched preinfection and postinfection samples were available from 13 individuals.
TRIM5αhu messenger RNA levels were lower in the PBMCs of HIV-1–infected subjects than in those of uninfected subjects (P < .001). Seroconverters had lower preinfection levels of TRIM5αhu than did nonseroconverters (P < .001). TRIM5αhu levels did not change significantly after infection. There was no correlation between TRIM5αhu levels and viral loads or CD4+ T cell counts.
High expression of TRIM5αhu is associated with reduced susceptibility to HIV-1 infection. Furthermore, infection is not associated with disregulation of TRIM5αhu. TRIM5αhu expression levels do not contribute to the control of primary HIV-1 viremia.