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Clin Dev Immunol. 2012;2012:670957. doi: 10.1155/2012/670957. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Incomplete immune recovery in HIV infection: mechanisms, relevance for clinical care, and possible solutions.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases, Rigshospitalet, University Hospital of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.


Treatment of HIV-infected patients with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) usually results in diminished viral replication, increasing CD4⁺ cell counts, a reversal of most immunological disturbances, and a reduction in risk of morbidity and mortality. However, approximately 20% of all HIV-infected patients do not achieve optimal immune reconstitution despite suppression of viral replication. These patients are referred to as immunological nonresponders (INRs). INRs present with severely altered immunological functions, including malfunction and diminished production of cells within lymphopoetic tissue, perturbed frequencies of immune regulators such as regulatory T cells and Th17 cells, and increased immune activation, immunosenescence, and apoptosis. Importantly, INRs have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality compared to HIV-infected patients with an optimal immune reconstitution. Additional treatment to HAART that may improve immune reconstitution has been investigated, but results thus far have proved disappointing. The reason for immunological nonresponse is incompletely understood. This paper summarizes the known and unknown factors regarding the incomplete immune reconstitution in HIV infection, including mechanisms, relevance for clinical care, and possible solutions.

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