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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2011 Sep 1;58(1):1-8. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e318224d0c7.

Augmented HIV-specific interferon-gamma responses, but impaired lymphoproliferation during interruption of antiretroviral treatment initiated in primary HIV infection.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO 80045, USA. liz.connick@ucdenver



Antiretroviral therapy (ART) introduced during primary HIV infection followed by treatment interruption (TI) is postulated to enhance virologic control through induction of HIV-specific CD4 T cells, which foster virus-specific CD8+ T cells that suppress virus replication. This hypothesis was evaluated in 21 subjects enrolled in AIDS Clinical Trials Group 709, a substudy of AIDS Clinical Trials Group 371, which prospectively evaluated subjects who received ≥1 year of ART initiated in acute or recent HIV infection followed by TI.


Lymphoproliferation was assessed by [methyl-H] thymidine incorporation and HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell interferon-gamma responses by enzyme-linked immunospot-forming assays. Virologic success was defined as sustained viral load <5000 copies per milliliter for 24 weeks after TI.


HIV-specific lymphoproliferative responses were detected at least once in 5 (24%) of 21 subjects, were generally transient, and were unrelated to HIV-specific interferon-gamma responses (P > 0.4). HIV-specific CD8+ interferon-gamma responses increased after 48 weeks of ART (P = 0.03), but failed to predict virologic success (P = 0.18). Compared with seronegative subjects, lymphoproliferation to Candida, cytomegalovirus, and alloantigens was similar in HIV-infected subjects during ART, but lower during TI (P ≤ 0.04).


HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell interferon-gamma responses expand during ART following primary HIV infection, but are not related to HIV-specific lymphoproliferative responses nor virologic success. Impaired non-HIV antigen-specific lymphoproliferation associated with TI suggests this strategy could be deleterious.

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