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
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.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is an important pathogen in healthy neonates and individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). The objective of this study was to determine whether the detection of CMV DNA (CMV DNAemia) in maternal plasma was associated with mortality in HIV-1 infected women or their infants.
A longitudinal study was designed to examine the relationship between maternal CMV DNAemia and maternal-infant mortality during two years postpartum. Sixty-four HIV-1 infected women and their infants were studied. CMV DNA loads were quantified in plasma from the mothers near the time of delivery. Baseline maternal CD4 counts, CD4%, HIV-1 RNA, and CMV DNAemia were evaluated as covariates of subsequent maternal or infant mortality in univariate and multivariate Cox regression.
CMV DNA was detected in 11/64 (17%) of the HIV-1 infected women. HIV-1 and CMV viral load were strongly correlated in CMV DNAemic women (ρ=0.84, p=0.001). Detection of CMV DNAemia was associated with decreased maternal survival at 24 months postpartum (log-rank p=0.006). Additionally, HIV-1 infected infants born to CMV DNAemic women had a 4-fold increased risk of mortality during 24 months of follow-up. Maternal CMV DNAemia remained a significant risk factor for mortality in HIV-1 infected infants after adjusting for maternal CD4 cells/mm3 (adjusted HR=4.3, CI=1.4–13), CD4% (HR=3.2, CI=1.0–10), HIV-1 viral load (HR=4.1, CI=1.4–12) or maternal death (HR=3.7, CI=1.0–13).
Maternal plasma CMV DNAemia identified a subgroup of Kenyan women and infants at high risk for death in the two years following delivery.
cytomegalovirus; vertical transmission; viral load; infant mortality
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection results in different patterns of viral replication in pediatric compared to adult populations. The role of early HIV-1-specific responses in viral control has not been well defined, because most studies of HIV-1-infected infants have been retrospective or cross-sectional. We evaluated the association between HIV-1-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ) release from the cells of infants of 1 to 3 months of age and peak viral loads and mortality in the first year of life among 61 Kenyan HIV-1-infected infants. At 1 month, responses were detected in 7/12 (58%) and 6/21 (29%) of infants infected in utero and peripartum, respectively (P = 0.09), and in ∼50% of infants thereafter. Peaks of HIV-specific spot-forming units (SFU) increased significantly with age in all infants, from 251/106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) at 1 month of age to 501/106 PBMC at 12 months of age (P = 0.03), although when limited to infants who survived to 1 year, the increase in peak HIV-specific SFU was no longer significant (P = 0.18). Over the first year of life, infants with IFN-γ responses at 1 month had peak plasma viral loads, rates of decline of viral load, and mortality risk similar to those of infants who lacked responses at 1 month. The strength and breadth of IFN-γ responses at 1 month were not significantly associated with viral containment or mortality. These results suggest that, in contrast to HIV-1-infected adults, in whom strong cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses in primary infection are associated with reductions in viremia, HIV-1-infected neonates generate HIV-1-specific CD8+-T-cell responses early in life that are not clearly associated with improved clinical outcomes.