Continuous improvement in the immune system of HIV-infected children on prolonged antiretroviral therapy


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Abstract

Background:The goal of HAART is to promote reconstitution of CD4+ T cells and other immune responses. We evaluated the extent and the kinetics of immune reconstitution in HIV-infected children over 144 weeks of successful HAART.Methods:Thirty-seven children receiving their first HAART regimen had plasma HIV RNA; T cells and subpopulations; T-cell rearrangement excision circles (TREC) DNA; candida, HIVCD4 and HIVCD8 enzyme-linked immunospot measured at regular intervals.Results:Plasma HIV RNA became undetectable in 81% of patients at 24 weeks and remained undetectable in 77% at 144 weeks. In contrast, CD4+% continuously increased. Distribution of T-cell subpopulations changed rapidly during the first 48 weeks of HAART and more slowly thereafter. At 144 weeks, total, naive and activated CD4+% and naive CD8+% of HIV-infected children were not significantly different from those of healthy age-matched controls, whereas total and activated CD8+% remained elevated. CD4+ and CD8+ TREC content increased only during the first 48 weeks of HAART. They positively correlated with each other and with total CD4+%, naive CD4+% and naive CD8+%. Candida and HIVCD4 enzyme-linked immunospot increased over time reaching peak values at 48 weeks and 144 weeks, respectively. HIVCD8 enzyme-linked immunospot decreased in magnitude over 144 weeks of HAART but retained its breadth. Baseline CD4+% positively correlated with CD4+% and with functional immune reconstitution at week 144, whereas baseline TREC correlated with TREC at week 144.Conclusion:HIV-infected children acquired normal distribution of CD4+ T cells and other subpopulations and recovered CD4-mediated HIV immunity after 144 weeks of HAART.

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