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Int J Parasitol. 2002 May;32(5):543-50.

IL-4 increases Simian immunodeficiency virus replication despite enhanced SIV immune responses in infected rhesus macaques.

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Department of Pathology, University of Pennsylvania, 422 Curie Blvd, 505 Stellar-Chance Labs, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


It is widely believed that a Th1 type CD4 response is critical for enhancement of CD8 immunity and for controlling HIV-1 infection. Th2 type responses, such as what might be seen in a chronic parasitic infection, would sacrifice cellular immunity and thus benefit the virus at the expense of the host. However, there has been little direct examination of the hypothesis in a primate model system. Accordingly, the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infected rhesus macaque model was used to investigate the impact of immunisation with SIV expressing DNA constructs and co-injection with IL-4 on the SIV specific immunological responses, lymphocyte cell counts, as well as the impact on viral load. IL-4 is a Th2 type cytokine, which enhances antibody production and inhibits a CD4 Th1 phenotype. Rhesus macaques were infected with 10 AID50 of SIVmac239 and treated with 9-[2-(phosphonomethoxy)propyl]adenine (PMPA) 9 weeks post-infection. During PMPA treatment, animals were immunised with plasmids that expressed the SIV proteins, env, rev, gag and pol. In addition, they were immunised with a construct that encoded the gene for IL-4. IL-4 co-immunisation increased the neutralizing antibody titres in this group. Importantly, the viral loads in animals vaccinated with IL-4 expressing plasmid increased during the immunisation regimens despite the higher neutralizing antibody titres. In addition, neutralizing antibodies did not correlate with viral set point prior to PMPA treatment, however, there was a correlation between viral loads and antibody titres following the treatment with PMPA. Antibody titres decreased following the suppression of viral load. Importantly, vaccination in the absence of IL-4 protected CD4 levels without increasing viral load. The data support the hypothesis that inappropriate immune bias toward a Th2 pathway would ultimately enhance disease progression.

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