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Multiple HIV-1-specific cytokine and proliferative responses by CD4(+) T cells have not been studied in acutely infected infants. Using an intracellular cytokine staining assay, 34 untreated clade C HIV-1-infected infants (2-102 days old) were assessed for IFN-gamma, 28/34 for IL-2, and 26/34 for TNF-alpha responses to all HIV-1 proteins. Responses were detected in 29%, 36%, and 15% of infants, respectively. Twelve of the original 34 infants were then studied longitudinally for 14 months to determine the effect of viral load on IFN-gamma Gag-specific responses: seven infants were treated for 1 year, stopped treatment, and resumed when CD4% was < 20 and five infants were treated only when the CD4% was <20. Following treatment cessation, there was an immediate increase in viral load followed by an increase in the magnitude of CD4(+) Gag-specific responses. Despite this, the majority of infants (54%) had to restart treatment by 24 months of age, indicating that the immune responses were antigen driven but not associated with protection. Among untreated infants HIV-specific CD4(+) responses were detected sporadically indicating a dysfunctional immune response in the face of constant exposure to high levels of viremia.

Original publication




Journal article


AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses

Publication Date





265 - 270


Animals, CD4 Lymphocyte Count, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cell Proliferation, Cells, Cultured, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Infant, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-2, Longitudinal Studies, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Viral Load, gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus