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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2019 Nov;38(11):1115-1120. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000002446.

Prolonged Antiretroviral Therapy in Adolescents With Vertical HIV Infection Leads to Different Cytokine Profiles Depending on Viremia Persistence.

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From the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
Infectious Diseases Division, Department of Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.



We investigated immune activation, exhaustion markers and cytokine expression upon stimulation in adolescents with vertical HIV infection.


Thirty adolescents receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) for vertical HIV infection, including 12 with detectable viral load (HIV/DET), 18 with undetectable viral load (HIV/UND) and 30 control adolescents without HIV infection (CONTROL), were evaluated for immune activation and programmed cell death protein-1 expression by flow cytometry, and 21 cytokines by Luminex Multiple Analyte Profiling technology after in vitro peripheral blood phytohemagglutinin stimulation.


Lower CD4 T cells and higher T cell activation and exhaustion markers were noted on CD4 T and on CD8 T cells and memory subsets from HIV/DET group, who also produced lower in vitro IFN-gamma, IL-10, IL-13, IL-17A, IL-5 and IL-6 than HIV/UND group. HIV/UND were comparable with CONTROL group in respect to CD4 T cell counts and T cell activation and exhaustion markers, but with higher in vitro production of ITAC (a chemokine with leukocyte recruitment function), IL-4 and IL-23. An inverse correlation between cytokine production and programmed cell death protein-1 expression on CD4 T and CD8 T subsets was detected.


Persistent viremia despite ART leads to T cell activation and immune exhaustion with low cytokine production, whereas viral suppression by ART leads to parameters similar to CONTROL, although a different cytokine profile is observed, indicating residual HIV impact despite absence of detectable viremia.

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