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: firstname.lastname@example.org