The independent effect of drug resistance on T cell activation in HIV infection

Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States
AIDS (Impact Factor: 5.55). 04/2006; 20(5):691-9. DOI: 10.1097/01.aids.0000216369.30948.18
Source: PubMed


Antiretroviral-treated individuals with drug-resistant HIV experience slower CD4 cell count declines than untreated individuals, independent of degree of viremia. As immune activation independently predicts disease progression, we hypothesized that patients with drug-resistant viremia would have less immune activation than patients with wild-type viremia, independent of plasma HIV RNA levels and that these differences would not be explained by a direct drug effect of protease inhibitors.
Percentages of activated (CD38/HLA-DR) T cells were compared between untreated participants with wild-type viremia and antiretroviral-treated participants with drug-resistant viremia, after adjusting for plasma HIV RNA levels among other factors associated with T cell activation. Changes in T cell activation were also assessed in subjects discontinuing protease inhibitors while continuing other antiretroviral medications.
Twenty-one untreated participants with wild-type viremia and 70 antiretroviral-treated participants with drug-resistant viremia were evaluated. Relative to untreated participants, those with drug-resistant viremia had 29% fewer activated CD4 (P = 0.051) and CD8 (P = 0.012) T cells after adjustment for plasma HIV RNA levels among other factors. There was no evidence for an early change in T cell activation among 13 subjects with drug-resistant viremia interrupting protease inhibitors while continuing other antiretroviral medications, but a significant increase in T cell activation with complete or partial emergence of wild-type sequences in protease.
Antiretroviral-treated patients with drug-resistant viremia have less T cell activation than untreated patients, independent of plasma HIV RNA level. Decreased ability of drug-resistant variants to cause T cell activation likely contributes to slower CD4 cell count declines among patients with drug-resistant viremia.

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