Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is the primary cause of morbidity and mortality in Malawi, Africa, because of its many effects on the immune system. Immune cells communicate through cytokines; therefore, we examined the relationships between HIV serostatus and cell-specific cytokine production for 40 asymptomatic, employed adults and 312 acutely ill, hospitalized patients in Malawi. We also measured the plasma HIV-1 RNA levels of 13 asymptomatic persons and 83 patients found to be HIV(+). We incubated peripheral whole blood with brefeldin-A +/- phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate and ionomycin and then permeabilized, fixed, fluorescently stained, and examined the mononuclear cells with four-color, six-parameter flow cytometry. The percentage of lymphocytes expressing CD4 did not differ significantly between the HIV(+) and HIV(-) healthy adults (medians, 35.2 vs. 40.8%, respectively), but a wide array of cytokine parameters were lower in the HIV(+) than in the HIV(-) asymptomatic persons, for example, median percentages of T cells producing induced interleukin 2 (IL-2) (8.7 vs. 16.5%, respectively) and spontaneously producing IL-6 (0.7 vs. 11.0%, respectively). Also, four T cell parameters reflecting type 2-to-type 1 cytokine balances (T2/T1) were higher in the HIV(+), versus HIV(-), asymptomatic persons. Unlike the healthy adults, for patients with mycobacteremia/fungemia or malaria, the HIV(+) patients had higher median percentages of T cells and CD8(+) T cells producing induced interferon gamma than did the HIV(-) PATIENTS: For both asymptomatic and acutely ill persons, HIV-1 plasma levels were positively correlated with T2/T1 parameters. Cell-specific cytokine effects of HIV infection may precede measurable effects on CD4 expression. Cytokine therapies, even beyond periodic administration of IL-2, may improve the responses of HIV-infected persons to both HIV and coinfections.
Chatt JA, Jason J, Nwanyanwu OC, Archibald LK, Parekh B, Kazembe PN, Dobbie H, Jarvis WR
AIDS Res. Hum. Retroviruses 2002 Dec;18(18):1367-77