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Clin Infect Dis. 2004 Apr 15;38(8):1159-66. Epub 2004 Apr 5.

Immune reconstitution in HIV-infected patients.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland.


The prognosis of patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 has dramatically improved since the advent of potent antiretroviral therapies (ARTs), which have enabled sustained suppression of HIV replication and recovery of CD4 T cell counts. Knowledge of the function of CD4 T cells in immune reconstitution was derived from large clinical studies demonstrating that primary and secondary prophylaxis against infectious agents, such as Pneumocystis jirovecii (Pneumocystis carinii), Mycobacterium avium complex, cytomegalovirus, and other pathogens, can be discontinued safely once CD4 T cell counts have increased beyond pathogen-specific threshold levels (usually >200 CD4 T cells/mm3) for 3-6 months. The downside of immune reconstitution is an inflammatory syndrome occurring days to months after the start of ART, with outcomes ranging from minimal morbidity to fatal progression. This syndrome can be elicited by infectious and noninfectious antigens. Microbiologically, the possible pathogenic pathways involve recognition of antigens associated with ongoing infection or recognition of persisting antigens associated with past (nonreplicating) infection. Specific antimicrobial therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and/or steroids for managing immune reconstitution syndrome should be considered.

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