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Microbial translocation induces persistent macrophage activation unrelated to HIV-1 levels or T-cell activation following therapy

Wallet, Mark Aa; Rodriguez, Carina Ac; Yin, Lia; Saporta, Sarac; Chinratanapisit, Sasawanc; Hou, Weib; Sleasman, John Wc,*; Goodenow, Maureen Ma,*

doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e328339e228
Clinical Science

Objective: HIV-1 replication and microbial translocation occur concomitant with systemic immune activation. This study delineates mechanisms of immune activation and CD4 T-cell decline in pediatric HIV-1 infection.

Design: Cross-sectional and longitudinal cellular and soluble plasma markers for inflammation were evaluated in 14 healthy and 33 perinatally HIV-1-infected pediatric study volunteers prior to and over 96 weeks of protease-inhibitor-containing combination antiretroviral therapy (ART). All HIV-1-infected patients reconstituted CD4 T cells either with suppression of viremia or rebound of drug-resistant virus.

Methods: Systemic immune activation was determined by polychromatic flow cytometry of blood lymphocytes and ELISA for plasma soluble CD27, soluble CD14, and tumor necrosis factor. Microbial translocation was evaluated by limulus amebocyte lysate assay to detect bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and ELISA for antiendotoxin core antigen immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies. Immune activation markers were compared with viral load, CD4 cell percentage, and LPS by regression models. Comparisons between healthy and HIV-1-infected or between different viral outcome groups were performed by nonparametric rank sum.

Results: Microbial translocation was detected in healthy infants but resolved with age (P < 0.05). LPS and soluble CD14 levels were elevated in all HIV-1-infected patients (P < 0.05 and P < 0.0001, respectively) and persisted even if CD4 T cells were fully reconstituted, virus optimally suppressed, and lymphocyte activation resolved by ART. Children with CD4 T-cell reconstitution but viral rebound following ART continued to display high levels of soluble CD27.

Conclusion: Microbial translocation in pediatric HIV-1 infection is associated with persistent monocyte/macrophage activation independent of viral replication or T-cell activation.

aDepartment of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine, USA

bDivision of Biostatistics, Department of Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA

cDepartment of Pediatrics, Division of Allergy Immunology and Rheumatology, University of South Florida and All Children's Hospital, St Petersburg, Florida, USA.

*J.W.S. and M.M.G. contributed equally to the writing of this article.

Received 16 December, 2009

Revised 10 February, 2010

Accepted 3 March, 2010

Correspondence to Maureen M. Goodenow, PhD, Department of Pathology, 2033 Mowry Road, Room 280, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.