Cytomegalovirus (CMV) was among the most common AIDS-defining illnesses prior to the advent of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART). In the ART era, CMV disease remains a significant public health threat among HIV-infected adults and children with delayed HIV diagnosis. CMV co-infection may additionally contribute to accelerated HIV progression, development of inflammation-related comorbidities, immune senescence and developmental deficits. Elimination of CMV would have tremendous public health significance and is an important priority; however, current vaccine strategies are not targeted at HIV-infected individuals. Antivirals active against CMV may be a novel strategy to prevent acquisition and improve outcomes, but haematological side effects are common and necessitate cautious use in pregnant women and infants. Studies in HIV-infected children on ART lag behind adults, and the clinical significance of CMV in this population is not well understood. Furthermore, the effects of CMV in HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) children need to be clarified to understand whether CMV interventions should also be a priority for this growing population. This review discusses our current understanding of CMV transmission and pathogenesis in HIV-exposed children and highlights unanswered questions for future research.
cytomegalovirus; paediatrics; human immunodeficiency virus; HIV-exposed uninfected; pathogenesis
HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) infants are a growing population in sub-Saharan Africa, with higher morbidity and mortality than HIV-unexposed infants. HEU infants may experience increased morbidity due to breastfeeding avoidance.
We sought to describe the burden and identify predictors of hospitalization among HEU infants in the first year of life.
Using a retrospective cohort of HIV-infected mothers and their HEU infants in Nairobi, Kenya, we identified infants who were HIV-uninfected at birth and were followed monthly until last negative HIV test, death, loss to follow-up or study exit at one year of age. Incidence, timing and reason for hospitalization was assessed overall as well as stratified by feeding method. Predictors of first infectious disease hospitalization were identified using competing risk regression, with HIV acquisition and death as competing risks.
Among 388 infants, 113 hospitalizations were reported [35/100 infant-years, 95% confidence interval (CI) 29–42]. Ninety hospitalizations were due to one or more infectious diseases [26/100 infant-years, 95%CI 21–32], primarily pneumonia (n=40), gastroenteritis (n=17) and sepsis (n=14). Breastfeeding was associated with decreased risk of infectious disease hospitalization [SHR=0.39 (95%CI 0.24–0.64)], as was time-updated nutritional status [SHR=0.73 (95%CI 0.61–0.89)]. Incidence of infectious disease hospitalization among formula-fed infants was 51/100 child-years (95%CI 37–70) compared to 19/100 child-years (95%CI 14–25) among breastfed infants.
Among HEU infants, breastfeeding and nutritional status were associated with reduced hospitalization during the first year of life.
Antiretroviral therapy-naive HIV-1 infected infants experience poor viral containment and rapid disease progression compared to adults. Viral factors (e.g. transmitted cytotoxic T- lymphocyte (CTL) escape mutations) or infant factors (e.g. reduced CTL functional capacity) may explain this observation. We assessed CTL functionality by analysing selection in CTL-targeted HIV-1 epitopes following perinatal infection. HIV-1 gag, pol and nef sequences were generated from a historical repository of longitudinal specimens from 19 vertically infected infants. Evolutionary rate and selection were estimated for each gene and in CTL-restricted and non-restricted epitopes. Evolutionary rate was higher in nef and gag vs. pol, and lower in infants with non-severe immunosuppression vs. severe immunosuppression across gag and nef. Selection pressure was stronger in infants with non-severe immunosuppression vs. severe immunosuppression across gag. The analysis also showed that infants with non-severe immunosuppression had stronger selection in CTL-restricted vs. non-restricted epitopes in gag and nef. Evidence of stronger CTL selection was absent in infants with severe immunosuppression. These data indicate that infant CTLs can exert selection pressure on gag and nef epitopes in early infection and that stronger selection across CTL epitopes is associated with favourable clinical outcomes. These results have implications for the development of paediatric HIV-1 vaccines.
Effective biomedical and structural HIV prevention approaches are being implemented throughout sub-Saharan Africa. A “lifecycle approach” to HIV prevention recognizes the interconnectedness of the health of women, children and adolescents, and prioritizes interventions that have benefits across these populations. We review new biomedical prevention strategies for women, adolescents and children, structural prevention approaches, and new modalities for eliminating infant HIV infection, and discuss the implications of a lifecycle approach for the success of these methods. Some examples of the lifecycle approach include evaluating education and HIV prevention strategies among adolescent girls not only for their role in reducing risk of HIV infection and early pregnancy, but also to promote healthy adolescents who will have healthier future children. Similarly, early childhood interventions such as exclusive breastfeeding not only prevent HIV, but also contribute to better child and adolescent health outcomes.. The most ambitious biomedical infant HIV prevention effort, Option B+, also represents a lifecycle approach by leveraging the prevention benefits of optimal HIV treatment for mothers; maternal survival benefits from Option B+ may have ultimately more health impact on children than the prevention of infant HIV in isolation. The potential for synergistic and additive benefits of lifecycle interventions should be considered when scaling up HIV prevention efforts in sub-Saharan Africa.
HIV prevention; maternal health; child health; adolescent health; millennium development goals; PMTCT; mother-to-child transmission of HIV; global epidemic; HIV
We compared primary Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and suppression between Kenyan human immunodeficiency virus–infected infants starting nevirapine-based vs lopinavir/ritonavir-based antiretroviral regimens. Although the rate of EBV infection was similar between groups, infants receiving lopinavir/ritonavir suppressed EBV more rapidly. Our findings suggest that specific antiretrovirals may potentially impact the risk of future EBV-associated malignancies.
Epstein-Barr virus; primary infection; HIV; infant; antiretroviral therapy
To determine neonatal immunologic factors that correlate with mother-to-child-transmission of HIV-1.
This case–control study compared cord blood natural killer (NK) and T-cell populations of HIV-1 exposed infants who subsequently acquired infection by 1 month (cases) to those who remained uninfected by 1 year of life (controls). Control specimens were selected by proportional match on maternal viral load.
Cryopreserved cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMCs) were thawed and stained for multiparameter flow cytometry to detect NK and T-cell subsets and activation status. CBMCs were also used in a viral suppression assay to evaluate NK cell inhibition of HIV-1 replication in autologous CD4+ T cells.
Cord blood from cases contained a skewed NK cell repertoire characterized by an increased proportion of CD16−CD56+ NK cells. In addition, cases displayed less-activated CD16−CD56+ NK cells and CD8+ T cells, based on HLA-DR+CD38+ costaining. NK cell suppression of HIV-1 replication ex vivo correlated with the proportion of acutely activated CD68+CD16−CD56+ NK cells. Finally, we detected a higher proportion of CD27−CD45RA− effector memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in cord blood from cases compared with controls.
When controlled for maternal viral load, cord blood from infants who acquired HIV-1 had a higher proportion of CD16−CD56+ NK cells, lower NK cell activation and higher levels of mature T cells (potential HIV-1 targets) than control infants who remained uninfected. Our data provide evidence that infant HIV-1 acquisition may be influenced by both innate and adaptive immune cell phenotypes and activation status.
CD38; HLA-DR; Kenya; mother-to-child HIV-1 transmission; natural killer cell; Tem; viral suppression assays
In human immunodeficiency virus–infected women, cervical cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation during pregnancy was correlated with higher CMV levels in breast milk. Low maternal CD4 count and high CMV levels in breast milk were independently associated with infant CMV infection.
Background. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is associated with adverse outcomes in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–exposed infants. Determinants of vertical CMV transmission in the setting of maternal HIV-1 infection are not well-defined.
Methods. CMV and HIV-1 levels were measured in plasma, cervical secretions, and breast milk of 147 HIV-1–infected women to define correlates of maternal CMV replication and infant CMV acquisition.
Results. Although few women had detectable CMV in plasma (4.8%), the majority had detectable CMV DNA in cervical secretions (66%) and breast milk (99%). There was a strong association between cervical CMV detection during pregnancy and later breast milk levels (β = 0.47; P = .005). Plasma HIV-1 level and CD4 counts were associated with CMV in the cervix and breast milk. However HIV-1 levels within the cervix and breast milk were not associated with CMV within these compartments. Maternal breast milk CMV levels (hazard ratio [HR], 1.4; P = .003) and maternal CD4 < 450 cells/mm3 (HR, 1.8; P = .008) were independently associated with infant CMV acquisition; each log10 increase in breast milk CMV was associated with a 40% increase in infant infection. The breast milk CMV level required to attain a 50% probability of CMV transmission increased with higher maternal CD4 counts, increasing from 3.55 log10 CMV DNA copies/mL at a CD4 count of 350 cells/mm3 to 5.50 log10 CMV DNA copies/mL at a CD4 count of 1000 cells/mm3.
Conclusions. Breast milk CMV levels and maternal CD4 count are major determinants of CMV transmission in the setting of maternal HIV-1. Maternal immune reconstitution or lowering breast milk CMV levels may reduce vertical CMV transmission.
cytomegalovirus; human immunodeficiency virus; neonates; opportunistic infection; compartmentalization
Despite expanded programs for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), HIV-infected infants may not be diagnosed until they are ill. Comparing HIV prevalence and outcomes in infants diagnosed in PMTCT programs to those in hospital settings may improve pediatric HIV diagnosis strategies.
HIV-exposed infants <12 months old were recruited from 9 PMTCT sites in public maternal child health (MCH) clinics or from an inpatient setting in Nairobi, Kenya and tested for HIV using HIV DNA assays. A subset of HIV-infected infants <4.5 months of age was enrolled in a research study and followed for 2 years. HIV prevalence, number needed to test, infant age at testing, and turnaround time for tests were compared between PMTCT programs and hospital sites. Among the enrolled cohort, baseline characteristics, survival, and timing of antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation were compared between infants diagnosed in PMTCT programs versus hospital.
Among 1,923 HIV-exposed infants, HIV prevalence was higher among infants tested in hospital than PMTCT early infant diagnosis (EID) sites (41% vs. 11%, p < 0.001); the number of HIV-exposed infants needed to test to diagnose one infection was 2.4 in the hospital vs. 9.1 in PMTCT. Receipt of HIV test results was faster among hospitalized infants (7 vs. 25 days, p < 0.001). Infants diagnosed in hospital were older at the time of testing than PMTCT diagnosed infants (5.0 vs. 1.6 months, respectively, p < 0.001).
In the subset of 99 HIV-infected infants <4.5 months old followed longitudinally, hospital-diagnosed infants did not differ from PMTCT-diagnosed infants in time to ART initiation; however, hospital-diagnosed infants were >3 times as likely to die (HR = 3.1, 95% CI = 1.3-7.6).
Among HIV-exposed infants, hospital-based testing was more likely to detect an HIV-infected infant than PMTCT testing. Because young symptomatic infants diagnosed with HIV during hospitalization have very high mortality, every effort should be made to diagnose HIV infections before symptom onset. Systems to expedite turnaround time at PMTCT EID sites and to routinize inpatient pediatric HIV testing are necessary to improve pediatric HIV outcomes.
Pediatric; Infant; HIV; PMTCT; Hospital; Early infant diagnosis; Delayed diagnosis
HIV-exposed uninfected infants (HEU) have higher infectious disease morbidity and mortality than unexposed infants. We determined the incidence and risk factors for pneumonia, a leading cause of infant mortality worldwide, in a cohort of HEU infants. Identifying predictors of pneumonia among HEU infants may enable early identification of those at highest risk.
A retrospective cohort of HEU participating in a Kenyan perinatal HIV study, enrolled between 1999-2002.
Infants were followed monthly from birth to 12 months. Incidence of pneumonia diagnosed at monthly study visits, sick-child visits or by means of a verbal autopsy, was estimated with a 14-day window for new episodes. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to identify predictors of first pneumonia occurrence.
Among 388 HEU infants with 328 person-years of follow-up, the incidence of pneumonia was 900/1,000 child-years (95% CI: 800-1,000). Maternal HIV viral load at 32 weeks gestation [HR=1.2 (1.0-1.5) per log10 difference] and being underweight (weight-for-age Z-score <-2) at the previous visit [HR=1.8 (1.1-2.8)] were associated with increased risk of pneumonia. Breastfed infants had a 47% lower risk of pneumonia than those never breastfed [HR=0.53 (0.39-0.73)], independent of infant growth, maternal viral load and maternal CD4%. Breastfeeding was also associated with a 74% lower risk of pneumonia-related hospitalization (HR=0.26 (0.13-0.53)).
The incidence of pneumonia in this cohort of HEU infants was high. Our observations suggest that maternal viral suppression and breastfeeding may reduce the burden of pneumonia among HEU.
HIV-exposed uninfected; infants; morbidity; breastfeeding; pneumonia
Early infant HIV-1 diagnosis and treatment substantially improve survival. Where virologic HIV-1 testing is unavailable, Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) clinical algorithms may be used for infant HIV-1 screening. We evaluated the performance of the 2008 WHO IMCI HIV algorithm in a cohort of HIV-exposed Kenyan infants.
From 1999–2003, 444 infants had monthly clinical assessments and quarterly virologic HIV-1 testing. Using archived clinical data, IMCI sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) were calculated using virologic testing as a gold standard. Linear regression and survival analyses were used to determine the effect of age on IMCI performance and timing of diagnosis.
Overall IMCI sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV value were 58%, 87%, 52%, and 90%, respectively. Sensitivity (1.4%) and PPV (14%) were lowest at 1 month of age, when 81% of HIV-infections already had occurred. Sensitivity increased with age (p<0.0001), but remained low throughout infancy (range=1.4–35%). Specificity (range=97–100%) was high at each time point and was not associated with age. Fifty-eight percent of HIV-1 infected infants (50/86) were eventually diagnosed by IMCI, and use of IMCI was estimated to delay diagnosis in HIV-infected infants by a median of 5.9 months (p<0.0001).
IMCI had low sensitivity during the first month of life, when the majority of HIV-1 infections had already occurred, and initiation of treatment is most critical. Although sensitivity increased with age, the substantial delay in HIV-1 diagnosis using IMCI limits its utility in early infant HIV-1 diagnosis.
IMCI; HIV; infant; Africa; clinical algorithm; pediatric
Background. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a risk factor for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)–associated lymphomas. Characterizing primary infection may elucidate risk factors for malignancy.
Methods. To describe clinical and virologic manifestations of primary EBV infection among infants born to HIV-infected women, specimens were utilized from a cohort study conducted in Nairobi, Kenya. HIV and EBV viral loads were measured serially in plasma. EBV serology was performed on EBV DNA–negative infants. Monthly clinical examinations were performed by pediatricians.
Results. The probability of EBV infection by 1 year of age was .78 (95% CI, .67–.88) in HIV-infected and .49 (95% CI, .35–.65) in HIV-uninfected infants (P < .0001). At 2 years, probability of EBV infection was .96 (95% CI, .89–.99) in HIV-infected infants. Peak EBV loads were higher in HIV-infected versus HIV-uninfected infants (median 2.6 vs 2.1 log10 copies/mL; P < .0001). The majority of HIV-infected infants had detectable EBV DNA for >3 months (79%). Primary EBV infection was associated with cough, fever, otitis media, pneumonia, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, and hospitalization in HIV-infected infants; conjunctivitis and rhinorrhea in HIV-uninfected infants.
Conclusions. EBV infection occurs early in infants born to HIV-infected women. HIV infection was associated with more frequent and higher quantity EBV DNA detection.
EBV; primary infection; HIV; pediatric; herpesviruses
Studies in HIV-1-infected infants and HIV-1-exposed, uninfected infants link early cytomegalovirus (CMV) acquisition with growth delay and cognitive impairment. We investigated maternal valacyclovir to delay infant acquisition of CMV.
Pregnant women with HIV-1, HSV-2 and CD4 count >250 cells/µl were randomized at 34 weeks gestation to 500 mg twice-daily valacyclovir or placebo for 12 months. Maternal CMV DNA was measured in plasma at 34 weeks gestation, in cervical secretions at 34 and 38 weeks gestation, and in breast milk at 7 postpartum timepoints; infant CMV DNA was measured in dried blood spots at 8 timepoints including birth.
Among 148 women, 141 infants were compared in intent-to-treat analyses. Maternal and infant characteristics were similar between study arms. Infant CMV acquisition did not differ between study arms, with 46/70 infants (66%) in placebo arm and 47/71 infants (66%) in the valacyclovir arm acquiring CMV; median time to CMV detection did not differ. CMV DNA was detected in 92% of 542 breast milk specimens with no difference in CMV level between study arms. Change in cervical shedding of CMV DNA between baseline and 38 weeks was 0.40-log greater in the placebo arm than the valacyclovir arm (p = 0.05).
In this cohort of HIV-1-seropositive mothers, two-thirds of infants acquired CMV by one year. Maternal valacyclovir had no effect on timing of infant CMV acquisition or breast milk CMV viral loads, although it modestly reduced cervical CMV shedding. Maternal prophylaxis to reduce infant CMV acquisition warrants further evaluation in trials with antiviral agents.
Preterm birth (PTB), low birth weight (LBW) and small for gestational age (SGA) contribute to neonatal mortality. Maternal HIV-1 infection has been associated with an increased risk of PTB, but mechanisms underlying this association are undefined. We describe correlates and outcomes of PTB, LBW, and SGA in HIV-exposed uninfected infants.
This was a retrospective analysis of cohort study. Between 1999–2002, pregnant, HIV-infected women were enrolled into an HIV-1 transmission study. Logistic regression was used to identify correlates of PTB, LBW and SGA in HIV-negative, spontaneous singleton deliveries. Associations between birth outcomes and mortality were measured using survival analyses.
In multivariable models, maternal plasma (OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.1-3.8) and cervical HIV-1 RNA levels (OR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.1-2.4), and CD4 < 15% (OR = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.0-5.6) were associated with increased odds of PTB. Abnormal vaginal discharge and cervical polymorphonuclear leukocytes were also associated with PTB. Cervical HIV-1 RNA level (OR = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.5-6.7) was associated with an increased odds of LBW, while increasing parity (OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.24-0.88) was associated with reduced odds. Higher maternal body mass index (OR = 0.75, 95% CI = 0.61-0.92) was associated with a reduced odds of SGA, while bacterial vaginosis was associated with >3-fold increased odds (OR = 3.2, 95% CI = 1.4-7.4). PTB, LBW, and SGA were each associated with a >6-fold increased risk of neonatal death, and a >2-fold increased rate of infant mortality within the first year.
Maternal plasma and cervical HIV-1 RNA load, and genital infections may be important risk factors for PTB in HIV-exposed uninfected infants. PTB, LBW, and SGA are associated with increased neonatal and infant mortality in HIV-exposed uninfected infants.
Preterm birth; Low birth weight; Small for gestational age; Pediatric HIV
Late presentation is common among African HIV-1-infected infants. Incidence and correlates of mortality were examined in 99 infants with HIV-1 diagnosis by age 5 months. Twelve-month survival was 66.8% (95% confidence interval, 55.9%, 75.6%). WHO stage 3/4, underweight, wasting, microcephaly, low hemoglobin, pneumonia, and gastroenteritis predicted mortality. Early HIV-1 diagnosis with ART before symptomatic disease is critical for infant survival.
Pediatric; Infant; HIV-1; Antiretroviral therapy; Mortality
Breast milk is a major route of infant HIV infection, yet the majority of breast-fed, HIV-exposed infants escape infection by unknown mechanisms. This study aimed to investigate the role of HIV-specific breast milk cells in preventing infant HIV infection.
A prospective study was designed to measure associations between maternal breast milk HIV-specific interferon-γ (IFN-γ) responses and infant HIV-1 detection at 1 month of age.
In a Kenyan cohort of HIV-infected mothers, blood and breastmilk HIV-gag IFN-γ ELISpot responses were measured. Logistic regression was used to measure associations between breast milk IFN-γ responses and infant HIV infection at 1 month of age.
IFN-γ responses were detected in breast milk from 117 of 170 (69%) women. IFN-γ responses were associated with breast milk viral load, levels of macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP) 1α, MIP-1β, regulated upon activation, normal T-cell expressed, and secreted and stromal-cell derived factor 1 and subclinical mastitis. Univariate factors associated with infant HIV infection at 1 month postpartum included both detection and breadth of breast milk IFN-γ response (P =0.08, P =0.04, respectively), breast milk MIP-1β detection (P =0.05), and plasma (P =0.004) and breast milk (P =0.004) viral load. In multivariate analyses adjusting for breast milk viral load and MIP-1β, breast milk IFN-γ responses were associated with an approximately 70% reduction in infant HIV infection [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.092–0.91], and each additional peptide pool targeted was associated with an approximately 35% reduction in infant HIV (aOR 0.65, 95% CI 0.44–0.97).
These data show breast milk HIV-gag-specific IFN-γ cellular immune responses are prevalent and may contribute to protection from early HIV transmission. More broadly, these data suggest breast milk cellular responses are potentially influential in decreasing mother-to-child transmission of viruses.
breastfeeding; breast milk cytotoxic T lymphocytes; cytokines; early postnatal transmission; infant; MIP-1β; pediatric; sub-Saharan Africa
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) coinfection is associated with infant HIV-1 disease progression and mortality. In a cohort of Kenyan HIV-infected infants, the frequencies of activated (CD38+ HLA-DR+) and apoptosis-vulnerable (CD95+ Bcl-2−) CD4+ and CD8+ T cells increased substantially during acute CMV infection. The frequency of activated CD4+ T cells was strongly associated with both concurrent CMV coinfection (P = 0.001) and HIV-1 viral load (P = 0.05). The frequency of apoptosis-vulnerable cells was also associated with CMV coinfection in the CD4 (P = 0.02) and CD8 (P < 0.001) T cell subsets. Similar observations were made in HIV-exposed uninfected infants. CMV-induced increases in T cell activation and apoptosis may contribute to the rapid disease progression in coinfected infants.
Recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara expressing HIV-1 antigens (MVA.HIVA) was used in ELISpot assays to monitor HIV-1-specific T cell responses in infants. Responses to MVA.HIVA and HIV-1 peptides were examined in 13 infected and 81 exposed uninfected infants in Nairobi, Kenya. Responses to MVA.HIVA (38%) and peptide stimulation (38%) were similar in frequency (p = 1.0) and magnitude (mean 176 versus 385 HIVSFU/106, p = 0.96) in HIV-1 infected infants. In exposed uninfected infants, MVA.HIVA detected more positive responses and higher magnitude responses as compared to peptide. MVA.HIVA ELISpot is a sensitive method for quantification of HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell responses in HIV-1 exposed infants. These results demonstrate the relevance of HIV-1 clade A consensus-derived immunogen HIVA for the viruses currently circulating in Nairobi.
Enzyme-linked immunospot assay; Exposed seronegatives; Mother to child transmission
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules regulate the cellular immune system and may be determinants of infant susceptibility to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. Molecular HLA typing for class I alleles was performed on infants followed in a Kenyan perinatal cohort. Early HIV-1 infection status was defined as infection occurring at birth or month 1, while late infection via breast milk was defined as first detection of HIV-1 after 1 month of age. Likelihood ratio tests based on a proportional hazards model adjusting for maternal CD4 T cell count and HIV-1 viral load at 32 weeks of gestation were used to test associations between infant allelic variation and incident HIV-1 infection. Among 433 infants, 76 (18%) were HIV-1 infected during 12 months of follow-up. HLA B*18 was associated with a significantly lower risk of early HIV-1 transmission [relative risk (RR) = 0.26; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.04–0.82], and none of the 24 breastfeeding infants expressing HLA B*18 who were uninfected at month 1 acquired HIV-1 late via breast milk. We observed a trend toward increased early HIV-1 acquisition for infants presenting HLA A*29 (RR = 2.0; 95% CI 1.0–3.8) and increased late HIV-1 acquisition via breast milk for both Cw*07 and Cw*08 (RR = 4.0; 95% CI 1.0–17.8 and RR = 7.2; 95% CI 1.2–37.3, respectively). HLA B*18 may protect breast-feeding infants against both early and late HIV-1 acquisition, a finding that could have implications for the design and monitoring of HIV-1 vaccines targeting cellular immune responses against HIV-1.
The incidence and correlates of breast milk HIV-1 RNA detection were determined in intensively sampled women receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV-1 transmission.
Women initiated HAART at 34 weeks of pregnancy. Breast milk was collected every 2–5 days during 1 month postpartum for measurements of cell-associated HIV DNA and cell-free HIV RNA. Plasma and breast milk were also collected at 2 weeks, 1, 3 and 6 months for concurrent HIV-1 RNA and DNA measurements. Regression was used to identify cofactors for breast milk HIV-1 RNA detection.
Of 259 breast milk specimens from 25 women receiving HAART, 34 had detectable HIV-1 RNA (13%, incidence 1.4 episodes/100 person-days 95% CI = 0.97–1.9). Fourteen of 25 (56%) women had detectable breast milk HIV-1 RNA [mean 2.5 log10 copies/ml (range 2.0–3.9)] at least once. HIV-1 DNA was consistently detected in breast milk cells despite HAART, and increased slowly over time, at a rate of approximately 1 copy/106 cells per day (p = 0.02). Baseline CD4, plasma viral load, HAART duration, and frequency of breast problems were similar in women with and without detectable breast milk HIV-1 RNA. Women with detectable breast milk HIV-1 RNA were more likely to be primiparous than women without (36% vs 0%, p = 0.05). Plasma HIV-1 RNA detection (OR = 9.0, 95%CI = 1.8–44) and plasma HIV-1 RNA levels (OR = 12, 95% CI = 2.5–56) were strongly associated with concurrent detection of breast milk HIV-1 RNA. However, no association was found between breast milk HIV-1 DNA level and concurrent breast milk HIV-1 RNA detection (OR = 0.96, 95%CI = 0.54–1.7).
The majority of women on HAART had episodic detection of breast milk HIV-1 RNA. Breast milk HIV-1 RNA detection was associated with systemic viral burden rather than breast milk HIV-1 DNA.
Natural killer (NK) cells play an important role in the containment of HIV replication during primary infection, though their functions are impaired during chronic HIV infection. Infants experience more rapid HIV disease progression than adults, but contributions of infant NK cells to containing HIV infection are unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of HIV infection on infant NK cell phenotype by evaluating samples and data from a cohort study of women and their infants, conducted in Nairobi, Kenya between 1999 and 2003. The percentage and phenotype of NK cells was evaluated longitudinally by multi-parameter flow cytometry over the first year of life in HIV-infected (HIV+, = 16), HIV-exposed uninfected (HIV-EU, n = 6), and healthy unexposed controls (HIV–, n = 4). At birth, NK subset distributions based on expression of CD56 and CD16 did not differ between HIV+, HIV-EU, or HIV– infants. However, HIV infection was associated with a subsequent decline in NK cells as a percentage of total lymphocytes (p < 0.001), and an expanding proportion of CD56-CD16+ NK cells (p < 0.001). Activated CD38brightCD69+ NK cells were more frequent in the HIV+ infants, followed by HIV-EU and HIV- infants, in both CD56dim (p = 0.005) and CD56bright compartments (p = 0.03). HIV infection and exposure was also associated with a significant decline in the percentage of perforin-expressing NK cells in the CD56dim compartment over the first year of life, with HIV+ infants losing approximately 2.5% (p < 0.001) and HIV-EU infants losing 3.0% (p = 0.01) of perforin+ cells per month. Thus, infant HIV infection is associated with alterations in NK cell subsets, activation, and cytolytic potential that could contribute to their poor control over HIV infection. Furthermore, exposure to HIV infection in infants who escaped infection is also associated with alterations in NK cells that may contribute to the reduced ability to fight infections that is observed in HIV-EU infants.
NK cell; HIV-1; infancy; mother-to-child transmission; age; exposure; immune activation; cord blood
Despite more than two decades of research, an effective vaccine that can prevent HIV-1 infection in populations exposed to the virus remains elusive. In the pursuit of an HIV-1 vaccine, does prevention of exposure to maternal HIV-1 in utero, at birth or in early life through breast-milk require special consideration? In this article we will review what is known about the immune mechanisms of susceptibility and resistance to mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV-1 and will summarise studies that have used passive or active immunisation strategies to interrupt -MTCT of HIV-1. We will also describe potentially modifiable infectious co-factors that may enhance transmission and/or disease progression (especially in the developing world). Ultimately an effective prophylactic vaccine against HIV-1 infection will need to be deployed as part of the Extended Programme of Immunisation (EPI) recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for use in developing countries, so it is important to understand how the infant immune system responds to HIV-1 antigens, both in natural infection and presented by candidate vaccines.
HIV-1; vaccine; infant; co-factor
Although CD8+ T cells play an important role in the containment of adult HIV-1 replication, their role in infant HIV-1 infection is not as well understood. Impaired HIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses may underlie the persistently high viral loads observed in infants. We examined the frequency and phenotype of infant HIV-specific CD8+ T cells in 7 HIV-infected antiretroviral therapy-naïve infants during the first 2 years of life, using class I HLA tetramers and IFN-γ-ELISPOT. The frequency (0.088–3.9% of CD3+CD8+ cells) and phenotype (CD27+CD28−, CD45RA+/−, CD57+/−, HLA-DR+, CD95+) of infant HIV-specific CD8+ T cells were similar to reports in adults undergoing early infection. Unlike adults, at 23–24 months post-infection a high frequency of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells expressed HLA-DR (mean 80%, range 68–85%) and CD95 (mean 88%, range 79–96%), suggesting sustained activation and vulnerability to apoptosis. Despite comparable expansion of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells of a similar phenotype to adults during early infection, infant T cells failed to contain HIV-1 replication, and remained persistently activated and vulnerable to apoptosis during chronic infection.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) coinfection may influence HIV-1 disease progression during infancy. Our aim was to describe the incidence of CMV infection and the kinetics of viral replication in Kenyan HIV-infected and HIV-exposed uninfected infants.
HIV-1 and CMV plasma viral loads were serially measured in 20 HIV-exposed uninfected and 44 HIV-infected infants born to HIV-infected mothers. HIV-infected children were studied for the first 2 years of life, and HIV-exposed uninfected infants were studied for 1 year.
CMV DNA was detected frequently during the first months of life; by 3 months of age, CMV DNA was detected in 90% of HIV-exposed uninfected infants and 93% of infants who had acquired HIV-1 in utero. CMV viral loads were highest in the 1–3 months following the first detection of virus and declined rapidly thereafter. CMV peak viral loads were significantly higher in the HIV-infected infants compared with the HIV-exposed uninfected infants (mean 3.2 versus 2.7 log10 CMV DNA copies/ml, respectively, P = 0.03). The detection of CMV DNA persisted to 7–9 months post-CMV infection in both the HIV-exposed uninfected (8/17, 47%) and HIV-infected (13/18, 72%, P = 0.2) children. Among HIV-infected children, CMV DNA was detected in three of the seven (43%) surviving infants tested between 19 and 21 months post-CMV infection. Finally, a strong correlation was found between peak CMV and HIV-1 viral loads (ρ = 0.40, P = 0.008).
Acute CMV coinfection is common in HIV-infected Kenyan infants. HIV-1 infection was associated with impaired containment of CMV replication.
acute infection; cytomegalovirus; opportunistic infection; paediatric HIV; pathogenesis
Breast-feeding by infants exposed to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) provides an opportunity to assess the role played by repeated HIV-1 exposure in eliciting HIV-1–specific immunity and in defining whether immune responses correlate with protection from infection.
Breast-feeding infants born to HIV-1–seropositive women were assessed for HLA-selected HIV-1 peptide–specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte interferon (IFN)–γ responses by means of enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assays at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of age. Responses were deemed to be positive when they reached ⩾50 HIV-1–specific sfu/1 × 106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and were at least twice those of negative controls.
A total of 807 ELISpot assays were performed for 217 infants who remained uninfected with HIV-1 at ∼12 months of age; 101 infants (47%) had at least 1 positive ELISpot result (median, 78–170 sfu/1 × 106 PBMCs). The prevalence and magnitude of responses increased with age (P = .01 and P = .007, respectively); the median log10 value for HIV-1–specific IFN-γ responses increased by 1.0 sfu/1 × 106 PBMCs/month (P < .001) between 1 and 12 months of age. Of 141 HIV-1–uninfected infants with 1-month ELISpot results, 10 (7%) acquired HIV-1 infection (0/16 with positive vs. 10/125 [8%] with negative ELISpot results; P = .6). Higher values for log10 HIV-1–specific spot-forming units at 1 month of age were associated with a decreased risk of HIV-1 infection, adjusted for maternal HIV-1 RNA level (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.09 [95% confidence interval, 0.01–0.72]).
Breast-feeding HIV-1–exposed uninfected infants frequently had HIV-1–specific IFN-γ responses. Greater early HIV-1–specific IFN-γ responses were associated with decreased HIV-1 acquisition.