Circadian Rhythm of Lymphocytes and Their Glucocorticoid Receptors in HIV-Infected Homosexual Men

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Glucocorticoids (Gc) are known to modulate protein synthesis by immune cells through binding to a specific receptor (GcR). We outlined the circadian rhythm of plasma cortisol, ACTH, of the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC isolated by Ficoll-Hypaque technique), and of their subsets CD4, CD8 in 14 asymptomatic HIV+ homosexual men and in nine controls. We also estimated the GcR of the PBMC at 0700 and at 2300 hours, near the peak and nadir of the cortisol rhythm. In the HIV+ subjects, the PBMC circadian rhythm is abolished, an observation that confirms previous reports; in more than half of these patients, the GcR dissociation constant is larger than that of the controls. The circadian rhythms of plasma cortisol and ACTH levels do not differ from those of the controls. These changes may impair the function of the hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal axis in the HIV-infected subject.

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