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AIDS. 2012 May 15;26(8):959-69. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e328352cee7.

T-cell activation and neurodevelopmental outcomes in perinatally HIV-infected children.

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  • 1National Institutes of Health, National Institute Mental of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



To evaluate baseline T-cell activation and neurodevelopmental outcomes over time in a cohort of perinatally HIV-infected (PHIV-infected) children with severe disease.


Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group protocol 366 (PACTG 366) was a partially randomized, open-label, multicenter 96-week antiretroviral treatment-algorithm study. Neurodevelopmental status, measured by age-dependent evaluations (Bayley scales of infant development-II; Wechsler preschool and primary scale of intelligence-revised; Wechsler intelligence scale for children-III), was a secondary outcome.


Linear mixed models were used to assess the baseline and follow-up neurodevelopmental outcomes in relation to immune activation, measured by CD38 and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) DR expression on peripheral CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells at study baseline. Models were adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, baseline viral load, baseline CD4%, cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection status at entry, study treatment arms, central nervous system penetrance score of antiretroviral regimen at entry, and viral load response 16 weeks postentry.


Among 126 PACTG 366 enrollees who were at least 1 year old and had both immune activation and age-appropriate neurodevelopmental assessments at baseline, 80 (63%) were black non-Hispanic, 71 (56%) males, 122 (97%) were on antiretrovirals, and 45 (36%) were in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disease category C at entry. CD4(+)CD38(+)HLADR(+)%, CD4(+)CD38(-)HLADR(+)%, and CD8(+)CD38(+)HLADR(+)% were positively associated with full-scale Intelligence Quotient scores (FSIQ) (slope = 0.18, 0.70, and 0.15, respectively; P = 0.02, 0.03, and 0.04, respectively). CD4(+)CD38(+)HLADR(-)% was negatively associated with FSIQ (slope =  -0.16, P = 0.01).


Contrary to HIV-infected adults, in PHIV-infected children higher CD4(+)CD38(+)HLADR(+)% may be associated with a neuroprotective effect and higher percentage of CD4(+)CD38(+) but HLADR(-) T cells may be deleterious.

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