Increased Serum Concentrations of Soluble Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptors in HIV-Infected Individuals Are Associated with Immune Activation

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Serum concentrations of soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors (sTNF-Rs) were measured in 61 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. Thirty-five percent of these had increased serum concentrations of sTNF-R type I (p55) (sTNF-R55) and 82% had increased concentrations of sTNF-R type II (p75) (sTNF-R75). The extent of the increase of sTNF-R75 was greater in more advanced HIV infection (p = 0.046) as it was measured by dividing the 61 individuals into two groups according to the median of the CD4+ T-cell count. However, the increase in concentrations of sTNF-R55 in the group with a CD4+ T-cell count below the median was only moderate and did not reach statistical significance. A strong correlation was found between sTNF-R75 and the soluble immune activation markers β2-microglobulin (rs = 0.74, p < 0.0001) and urinary neopterin (rs = 0.67, p < 0.0001), and a less strong correlation was found with interferon-γ (rs = 0.51, p = 0.0001). The correlations observed for sTNF-R55 were also significant but were always weaker than that of sTNF-R75. A weak inverse correlation was found between the number of CD4+ T cells and sTNF-R75 (rs = −0.33, p = 0.012), but no such correlation was observed with sTNF-R55. Our findings suggest that increased concentrations of serum sTNF-Rs in HIV infection are linked to immune activation, in which synergistic actions of interferon-γ and the TNF-α system are likely to play an important role.

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