Increased HIV-1 Mucosal Replication Is Associated With Generalized Mucosal Cytokine Activation

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SummaryThe purpose of this study was to characterize intestinal mucosal cytokine profiles in subjects with HIV-1 infection and their relation to mucosal viral load (MVL). Intestinal mucosal cytokine mRNA (interleukin [IL]-2, interferon [IFN]-γ, IL-12, IL-10, IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-α, IL-6, and regulated upon activation, normal T-cell expressed and secreted [RANTES]) and HIV-1 RNA were quantified using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). On the basis of MVL quantification, the HIV-1–infected subjects were divided into 3 groups: undetectable MVL (<50 copies/μg of tissue total RNA), low MVL (>50 but <5000 copies/μg of tissue total RNA), and high MVL (>5000 copies/μg of tissue total RNA). Compared with the control group, significant reductions in RANTES, IL-2, and IFNγ expression were seen in the undetectable MVL group (P < 0.005). IL-6 was significantly increased in all the HIV groups (P < 0.005), and RANTES, IL-10, and IFNγ were increased in the high MVL group (P < 0.005). Subjects with high MVL have generalized immune activation with increases in T helper (Th)1, Th2, and proinflammatory cytokines, whereas subjects with undetectable MVL have reduced expression of multiple cytokines. The pathologic basis for these observations is unclear but may relate to the success or failure of antiretroviral therapy in controlling mucosal viral replication.

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