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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2003 Jan 1;19(1):13-9.

Follow-up of antiretroviral treatment in liver transplant recipients with primary and chronic HIV type 1 infection.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Virology, Huddinge University Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


The prognosis of HIV-1-infected patients has dramatically improved but progression to liver failure occurs now frequently in subjects coinfected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). This has raised the issue of organ transplantation, but the knowledge about the effect of concomitant antiretroviral and immunosuppressive therapy is limited. The objective of the study was to describe viral and immunological events in antiretroviral-treated orthotopic liver transplant (OLT) recipients with primary (PHI) or chronic HIV-1 infection. Three HIV-1-infected patients with liver cirrhosis due to chronic HCV infection underwent OLT. A fourth patient developed PHI at OLT. Immunosuppressive drugs and combination antiretroviral therapy were given. The effects on HIV-1 load, viral diversity and divergence, and CD4(+) T cell counts, were studied. One patient died after 3 months. Three subjects were alive after 9 months, 14 months, and 3 years, respectively. In the PHI patient, viral load decreased during the second week of illness despite immunosuppression. During the third week the viremia increased until antiretroviral treatment was initiated. In all four patients, the HIV-1 replication was effectively inhibited during follow-up by the treatment, as determined by undetectable plasma viremia, lack of viral sequence changes, and increase in CD4(+) T cells. The pattern of viral dynamics may suggest that the innate immunity causes the earliest decline of viral load in PHI patients. A lack of adaptive immunity may thereafter lead to an increase in viremia in heavily immunosuppressed individuals. However, a specific HIV-1 immunity is not necessary to efficiently inhibit the viral replication when potent antiretroviral therapy is given in liver transplant recipients with primary or chronic HIV-1 infection.

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