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Braz J Med Biol Res. 2008 Aug;41(8):700-8.

Imbalance of naive and memory T lymphocytes with sustained high cellular activation during the first year of life from uninfected children born to HIV-1-infected mothers on HAART.

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Disciplina de Infectologia Pediátrica, Universidade Federal de São Paulo.


The immune consequences of in utero HIV exposure to uninfected children whose mothers were submitted to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) during gestation are not well defined. We evaluated 45 HIV-exposed uninfected (ENI) neonates and 45 healthy unexposed control (CT) neonates. All HIV-infected mothers received HAART during pregnancy, and the viral load at delivery was <50 copies/mL for 56.8%. Twenty-three ENI neonates were further evaluated after 12 months and compared to 23 unexposed healthy age-matched infants. Immunophenotyping was performed by flow cytometry in cord and peripheral blood. Cord blood lymphocyte numbers did not differ between groups. However, ENI neonates had a lower percentage of naive T cells than CT neonates (CD4+, 76.6 vs 83.1%, P < 0.001; CD8+, 70.9 vs 79.6%, P = 0.003) and higher percentages of central memory T cells than CT neonates (CD4+, 13.9 vs 8.7%, P < 0.001; CD8+, 8.6 vs 4.8%, P = 0.001). CD38 mean fluorescence intensity of T cells was higher in ENI neonates (CD4+, 62.2 vs 52.1, P = 0.007; CD8+, 47.7 vs 35.3, P < 0.001). At 12 months, ENI infants still had higher mean fluorescence intensity of CD38 on T cells (CD4+, 34.2 vs 23.3, P < 0.001; CD8+, 26.8 vs 19.4, P = 0.035). Despite effective maternal virologic control at delivery, HIV-exposed uninfected children were born with lower levels of naive T cells. Immune activation was present at birth and remained until at least 12 months of age, suggesting that in utero exposure to HIV causes subtle immune abnormalities.

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