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Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Feb 1;48(3):338-46. doi: 10.1086/595885.

Early immunological predictors of neurodevelopmental outcomes in HIV-infected children.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



A previous analysis of children infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the Women and Infants Transmission Study showed a strong correlation between low activated CD8(+) T lymphocytes in the first 2 months of life and good immunological prognosis. We sought to extend these observations to neurodevelopmental prognosis.


Ninety-eight HIV-infected children born before 1994 with flow cytometric data from the first 2 months of life and adequate neurodevelopmental testing through age 30 months were studied. Children were divided into those with low (<or=5% CD8(+)HLA-DR(+) cells or <or=25% CD8(+)CD38(+) cells) or high (>5% CD8(+)HLA-DR(+) cells or >25% CD8(+)CD38(+) cells) immune activation at 1 and/or 2 months of age. Analysis was performed using survival analysis, Cox's proportional hazard regression, and longitudinal regression models.


Absence of immune activation, measured as <or=5% CD8(+)HLA-DR(+) cells, was strongly associated with better performance on the psychomotor developmental index of the Bayley scales of infant development through the third year of life. This association persisted after adjustment for CD4 cell count, viral load, and progression to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (P= .005). An association with the mental development index was also present (P= .048). Significant association between neurodevelopmental outcomes and <or=25% CD8(+)CD38(+) cells was not seen.


In this prospective cohort study of HIV-infected children, there was a significant favorable association of low immune activation in peripheral T cells at age 1 or 2 months, measured by a low percentage of CD8(+)HLA-DR(+) cells, with subsequent psychomotor and mental development. This association was independent of other indices of severity and progression of HIV infection.

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