Author(s): Kvale D, Kran AM, Sommerfelt MA, Nyhus J, Baksaas I,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Cellular immune responses to HIV-1 have been examined mainly in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). During onset of HIV replication and antigenaemia after discontinuation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), PBMC may theoretically contain HIV-specific T cells that are qualitatively and quantitatively different from specific T cells dominating in the tissues. PBMC responses throughout HIV immunotherapy trials may therefore be skewed during recurrent viraemia. OBJECTIVE: To compare cellular HIV-specific in vitro responses in PBMC during onset of HIV viraemia with corresponding in vivo responses, represented by classical delayed-type hypersensitivity tests (DTH). METHODS: HIV patients (n = 38), pre-immunized with four HIV-1 p24-like consensus peptides (Vacc-4x) during HAART, were subjected to a 14-week treatment interruption with recurrent HIV viraemia. Proliferative T-cell responses to Vacc-4x p24 peptides, HIV p24 protein, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) proteins were measured in PBMC. Corresponding Vacc-4x peptide DTH were expressed as skin infiltrate areas after 48 h. RESULTS: After 14 weeks without HAART, HIV-1 RNA increased to 72,500 copies/ml (median). The Vacc-4x p24 peptide- and HIV-1 p24 protein-induced T-cell proliferation concurrently decreased by 81 and 93\% in PBMC during viraemia (medians, P < or = 0.03), whereas proliferative responses to CMV antigens were stable. In contrast, the Vacc-4x DTH areas, rather tended to increase by 36\% (P = 0.08) and contained infiltrates dominated by proliferating T cells and macrophages. CONCLUSIONS: Divergent in vitro and in vivo HIV-specific cellular immune responses were found during recurrent HIV viraemia. The clinical relevance of both surrogate markers for HIV-related immune responses should be compared in future studies.
This article was published in AIDS
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics