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J Clin Immunol. 2004 Mar;24(2):125-34.

Early impairment of CD8+ T cells immune response against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antigens associated with high level of circulating mononuclear EBV DNA load in HIV infection.

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1
Laboratoire de Virologie, Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, Paris. jerome.legoff@hop.egp.ap-hop-paris.fr

Abstract

Immunodeficiency related to HIV may increase the incidence of EBV-associated lymphomas, by altering EBV-specific immune control and consequently favoring EBV reactivation. The aim of the present study was to assess the relationship between the decrease of EBV-specific cellular immunity and the increase of EBV reactivation in a prospective cohort of 72 unselected HIV-infected individuals. EBV-specific immunity was evaluated by a highly sensitive IFN-gamma ELISPOT assay using 22 peptides mimicking latent and lytic antigens, and circulating mononuclear (PBMC) EBV DNA load was quantified by real-time quantitative PCR. The mean circulating cell-associated EBV DNA load was higher in HIV-infected patients (639 copies/10(6) PBMC) than in healthy controls (21, n = 14) ( P = 0.005) and was higher in patients with CD4(+) T-cell count below 350/microL than that in patients harboring higher CD4(+) T-cell count (1112 vs. 389, P = 0.003). The mean intensity of EBV-specific cellular responses was lower in HIV-infected patients than in controls ( P = 0.001), even in patients with CD4(+) T-cell count above 350/-microL ( P = 0.007). The number of EBV peptides recognized was lower in HIV-infected patients than in controls (frequency: 0.44 vs. 0.67; P = 0.02), indicating reduced polyclonality in HIV-infected patients. The polyclonality was 1.5-fold lower in HIV-infected patients with CD4(+) T-cell count below 350/-microL ( P =0.007). For EBV load >1000 copies/10(6) PBMC, the levels of cell-associated EBV DNA and those of EBV-specific cellular immunity, either in intensity or in polyclonality, or both, were inversely correlated. These findings demonstrate early impairment of the EBV-specific cellular immune control with progressive increase of EBV reactivation in the course of HIV infection. These observations likely provide a basis for appreciating the risk to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphomas in HIV-infected individuals.

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