Longitudinal assessment of immune response and viral characteristics in HIV-infected patients with prolonged CD4(+)/viral load discordance.
Although suppression of HIV-1 RNA below the limit of detection is associated with optimal outcomes, many patients can maintain or increase their CD4(+) count for prolonged time periods in the presence of persistent low-level viremia. We followed seven patients with prolonged (>5 years) discordant CD4(+)/viral load (VL) responses on protease inhibitor (PI)-based highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) prospectively for 1 year to assess evolution of immune function, viral phenotype, replication capacity (RC), and resistance profile. Immune function was assessed by qualitative and quantitative measurement of cellular activation (CD38(+)HLA-DR(+) and CD38 antibodies bound per cell), and the interferon (IFN)-() ELISpot assay. Presence of syncytium-inducing (SI) or nonsyncytium-inducing (NSI) viral strains was determined by MT-2 cell culture. RC was measured by a modified rapid recombinant virus assay. The resistance profile was characterized by both genotypic and phenotypic analysis. Over the year of follow-up, IFN-() production to gag persisted, responses to other HIV antigens increased, and markers of cellular activation did not change. NSI virus predominated. The genotypic (GSS) and phenotypic (PSS) susceptibility scores remained stable. Evolution of RC was variable over the year of follow-up, but the RC of viruses remained well below that of wild-type clinical isolates. Thus, CD4(+)/VL discordance can be maintained for periods exceeding 5 years in some patients receiving PI-based HAART without significant evolution of HIV resistance.
Kaplan, SS; Ferrari, G; Wrin, T; Hellmann, NS; Tomaras, GD; Gryszowka, VE; Fiscus, SA; Weinhold, KJ; Hicks, CB
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