Weijing He

University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, Tyler, Texas, United States

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Publications (35)344.72 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In individuals with human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) infection who are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), factors that promote full immune recovery are not well characterized. To investigate the influence of the timing of ART relative to HIV-1 infection on normalization of CD4+ T-cell counts, AIDS risk, and immune function. Participants in the observational US Military HIV Natural History Study with documented estimated dates of seroconversion (EDS) who achieved virologic suppression with ART were evaluated. Markers indicative of immune activation, dysfunction, and responsiveness were determined. Responses to hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine, an indicator of in vivo immune function, were also assessed. The timing of ART was indexed to the EDS and/or entry into the cohort. The CD4+ counts in HIV-1-uninfected populations were surveyed. Normalization of CD4+ counts to 900 cells/μL or higher, AIDS development, HBV vaccine response, as well as T-cell activation, dysfunction, and responsiveness. The median CD4+ count in HIV-1-uninfected populations was approximately 900 cells/μL. Among 1119 HIV-1-infected participants, CD4+ normalization was achieved in 38.4% vs 28.3% of those initiating ART within 12 months vs after 12 months from the EDS (P = .001). Incrementally higher CD4+ recovery (<500, 500-899, and ≥900 cells/μL) was associated with stepwise decreases in AIDS risk and reversion of markers of immune activation, dysfunction, and responsiveness to levels approximating those found in HIV-1-uninfected persons. Participants with CD4+ counts of 500 cells/μL or higher at study entry (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.00; 95% CI, 1.51-2.64; P < .001) or ART initiation (aOR, 4.08; 95% CI, 3.14-5.30; P < .001) had significantly increased CD4+ normalization rates compared with other participants. However, even among individuals with a CD4+ count of 500 cells/μL or higher at both study entry and before ART, the odds of CD4+ normalization were 80% lower in those initiating ART after 12 months from the EDS and study entry (aOR, 0.20; 95% CI, 0.07-0.53; P = 001). Initiation of ART within 12 months of EDS vs later was associated with a significantly lower risk of AIDS (7.8% vs 15.3%; P = .002), reduced T-cell activation (percent CD4+HLA-DR+ effector memory T cells, 12.0% vs 15.6%; P = .03), and increased responsiveness to HBV vaccine (67.9% vs 50.9%; P = .07). Deferral of ART beyond 12 months of the EDS diminishes the likelihood of restoring immunologic health in HIV-1-infected individuals.
    JAMA Internal Medicine 11/2014; · 13.25 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 11/2014; · 11.25 Impact Factor
  • Daniel Ramirez, Robert L. Jacobs, Cynthia Rather, Andrew Carrillo, Weijing He, Nathan Harper, Charles Andrews, Sunil K. Ahuja
    Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 02/2014; 133(2):AB221. · 11.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The severity of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (AR) symptomatology elicited after exposure to pollen in the absence versus the presence of confounding cofactors, such as in a pollen challenge chamber (PCC) and the natural pollinating season, respectively, might differ. We sought to determine the correlation of AR severity in the natural season versus out-of-season PCC exposures. Twenty-four Virginia live oak (VLO)-positive, 14 VLO-negative, 16 mountain cedar (MC)-positive, 8 MC-negative, and 26 ragweed-positive participants recorded AR symptoms (total symptom score [TSS]) during the VLO, MC, and ragweed pollinating seasons and during 2 consecutive PCC exposures of 3 hours each to these pollens separately. The TSSs recorded before the natural season were higher than the pre-PCC values. This prepriming was greater among VLO(+) than MC(+) participants, and it blunted further increases in TSSs during the VLO natural season. Nonatopic participants were nonreactive in the PCC. There was wide variation in the level of AR symptomatology after exposure to VLO, MC, or ragweed pollen in the PCC. Prepriming formed the basis for higher AR responses observed in the natural season than in the PCC, resulting in the identification of distinct PCC/natural season endophenotypes and a partial correlation between the TSSs recorded in the natural season versus those recorded in the PCC (r = 0.34, 0.54, and 0.65 for VLO(+), MC(+), and ragweed-positive participants, respectively). Prepriming in the natural pollinating season might obscure the true correlation between AR severity in the natural season versus the PCC. By mitigating confounding cofactors, PCC exposures have utility for evaluation of novel AR therapeutics.
    The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 12/2013; · 12.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Up to 90% HIV-1 positive intravenous drug users (IDUs) are co-infected with HCV. Although best recognized for its function as a major co-receptor for cell entry of HIV, CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) has also been implicated in the pathogenesis of HCV infection. Here, we investigated whether CCR5 haplotypes influence HIV-1 and HCV seropositivity among 373 Caucasian IDUs from Estonia. Of these IDUs, 56% and 44% were HIV and HCV seropositive, respectively, and 47% were coinfected. 500 blood donors seronegative for HIV and HCV were also evaluated. CCR5 haplotypes (HHA to HHG*2) were derived after genotyping nine CCR2-CCR5 polymorphisms. The association between CCR5 haplotypes with HIV and/or HCV seropositivity was determined using logistic regression analysis. Co-variates included in the models were length of intravenous drug use, HBV serostatus and copy number of CCL3L1, the gene encoding the most potent HIV-suppressive chemokine and ligand for CCR5. Compared to IDUs seronegative for both HCV and HIV (HCV-/HIV-), IDUs who were HCV+/HIV- and HCV+/HIV+were 92% and 82%, respectively, less likely to possess the CCR5-HHG*1 haplotype, after controlling for co-variates (Padjusted = 1.89×10(-4) and 0.003, respectively). This association was mostly due to subjects bearing the CCR5 HHE and HHG*1 haplotype pairs. Approximately 25% and<10% of HCV-/HIV- IDUs and HCV-/HIV- blood donors, respectively, possessed the HHE/HHG*1 genotype. Our findings suggest that HHG*1-bearing CCR5 genotypes influence HCV seropositivity in a group of Caucasian IDUs.
    PLoS ONE 07/2013; 8(7):e70561. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The relationship between the timing of the initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) after infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and the recovery of CD4+ T-cell counts is unknown. In a prospective, observational cohort of persons with acute or early HIV-1 infection, we determined the trajectory of CD4+ counts over a 48-month period in partially overlapping study sets: study set 1 included 384 participants during the time window in which they were not receiving ART and study set 2 included 213 participants who received ART soon after study entry or sometime thereafter and had a suppressed plasma HIV viral load. We investigated the likelihood and rate of CD4+ T-cell recovery to 900 or more cells per cubic millimeter within 48 months while the participants were receiving viral-load-suppressive ART. Among the participants who were not receiving ART, CD4+ counts increased spontaneously, soon after HIV-1 infection, from the level at study entry (median, 495 cells per cubic millimeter; interquartile range, 383 to 622), reached a peak value (median, 763 cells per cubic millimeter; interquartile range, 573 to 987) within approximately 4 months after the estimated date of infection, and declined progressively thereafter. Recovery of CD4+ counts to 900 or more cells per cubic millimeter was seen in approximately 64% of the participants who initiated ART earlier (≤4 months after the estimated date of HIV infection) as compared with approximately 34% of participants who initiated ART later (>4 months) (P<0.001). After adjustment for whether ART was initiated when the CD4+ count was 500 or more cells per cubic millimeter or less than 500 cells per cubic millimeter, the likelihood that the count would increase to 900 or more cells per cubic millimeter was lower by 65% (odds ratio, 0.35), and the rate of recovery was slower by 56% (rate ratio, 0.44), if ART was initiated later rather than earlier. There was no association between the plasma HIV RNA level at the time of initiation of ART and CD4+ T-cell recovery. A transient, spontaneous restoration of CD4+ T-cell counts occurs in the 4-month time window after HIV-1 infection. Initiation of ART during this period is associated with an enhanced likelihood of recovery of CD4+ counts. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others.).
    New England Journal of Medicine 01/2013; 368(3):218-30. · 54.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The level of concordance between allergic symptoms induced on exposure to pollen in a pollen challenge chamber (PCC) versus the natural season is unknown. We sought to test the hypothesis that the symptom levels of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis elicited after out-of-season exposure to short ragweed in a PCC and during the natural season for giant ragweed pollen are highly correlated. Thirty-one ragweed-sensitive participants recorded symptoms for 15 days during the natural giant ragweed season in San Antonio, Texas. Twenty-six of these participants were challenged to short ragweed pollen in a PCC for 3 hours per day for up to 4 days. In the PCC participants were dichotomized into those in whom low versus high levels of symptoms developed slowly or rapidly (ie, slow/low vs rapid/high). Each successive exposure visit associated with a progressive increase in symptom levels that approximated those experienced during the natural season. Hierarchic clustering identified 3 endotypes: endotypes I and II reflected concordantly low (n= 7) versus high (n = 14) total symptom scores (TSSs) in both the natural season and the PCC, respectively. Accordingly, the correlation between the TSSs recorded in the natural season and in the PCC for these 21 participants was very high. Although participants with endotype III (n = 5) had greater TSSs in the natural season than in the PCC, the degree of correlation between the TSSs remained high. Our findings affirm our hypothesis, underscore the high cross-reactivity between distinct pollens, and highlight the utility of the PCC to identify novel allergy endotypes that might have contrasting mechanistic underpinnings and potentially therapeutic responses.
    The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 05/2012; 130(1):122-7.e8. · 12.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CC chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) is the most potent monocyte chemoattractant and inter-individual differences in its expression level have been associated with genetic variants mapping to the cis-regulatory regions of the gene. An A to G polymorphism in the CCL2 enhancer region at position -2578 (rs1024611; A>G), was found in most studies to be associated with higher serum CCL2 levels and increased susceptibility to a variety of diseases such as HIV-1 associated neurological disorders, tuberculosis, and atherosclerosis. However, the precise mechanism by which rs1024611influences CCL2 expression is not known. To address this knowledge gap, we tested the hypothesis that rs1024611G polymorphism is associated with allelic expression imbalance (AEI) of CCL2. We used haplotype analysis and identified a transcribed SNP in the 3'UTR (rs13900; C>T) can serve as a proxy for the rs1024611 and demonstrated that the rs1024611G allele displayed a perfect linkage disequilibrium with rs13900T allele. Allele-specific transcript quantification in lipopolysaccharide treated PBMCs obtained from heterozygous donors showed that rs13900T allele were expressed at higher levels when compared to rs13900C allele in all the donors examined suggesting that CCL2 is subjected to AEI and that that the allele containing rs1024611G is preferentially transcribed. We also found that AEI of CCL2 is a stable trait and could be detected in newly synthesized RNA. In contrast to these in vivo findings, in vitro assays with haplotype-specific reporter constructs indicated that the haplotype bearing rs1024611G had a lower or similar transcriptional activity when compared to the haplotype containing rs1024611A. This discordance between the in vivo and in vitro expression studies suggests that the CCL2 regulatory region polymorphisms may be functioning in a complex and context-dependent manner. In summary, our studies provide strong functional evidence and a rational explanation for the phenotypic effects of the CCL2 rs1024611G allele.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(11):e49498. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the association of polymorphisms in CCR5, the major human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 coreceptor, and copy number of its potent ligand CCL3L1 with tuberculosis in 298 individuals from Colombia. The CCR5-HHD haplotype, a known genetic determinant of increased susceptibility to HIV-AIDS, and a high copy number of CCL3L1, a known genetic determinant of enhanced CCL3/CCL3L1 chemokine expression, each associated with presence of tuberculosis. Furthermore, CCR5-HHD was associated with higher CCR5 gene and surface expression. These results substantiate the strong link between the pro-inflammatory effects of CCR5 and its ligands with active tuberculosis and suggest that chemokine-chemokine receptor genetic determinants may influence tuberculosis in addition to HIV/AIDS.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 06/2011; 203(11):1590-4. · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Duffy-null trait and ethnic netropenia are both highly prevalent in Africa. The influence of pre-seroconversion levels of peripheral blood cell counts (PBCs) on the risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection among Africans is unknown. The triangular relationship among pre-seroconversion PBC counts, host genotypes, and risk of HIV acquisition was determined in a prospective cohort of black South African high-risk female sex workers. Twenty-seven women had seroconversion during follow-up, and 115 remained HIV negative for 2 years, despite engaging in high-risk activity. Pre-seroconversion neutrophil counts in women who subsequently had seroconversion were significantly lower, whereas platelet counts were higher, compared with those who remained HIV negative. Comprising 27% of the cohort, subjects with pre-seroconversion neutrophil counts of <2500 cells/mm(3) had a ∼3-fold greater risk of acquiring HIV infection. In a genome-wide association analyses, an African-specific polymorphism (rs2814778) in the promoter of Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC -46T > C) was significantly associated with neutrophil counts (P = 7.9 × 10(-11)). DARC -46C/C results in loss of DARC expression on erthyrocytes (Duffy-null) and resistance to Plasmodium vivax malaria, and in our cohort, only subjects with this genotype had pre-seroconversion neutrophil counts of <2500 cells/mm(3). The risk of acquiring HIV infection was ∼3-fold greater in those with the trait of Duffy-null-associated low neutrophil counts, compared with all other study participants. Pre-seroconversion neutrophil and platelet counts influence risk of HIV infection. The trait of Duffy-null-associated low neutrophil counts influences HIV susceptibility. Because of the high prevalence of this trait among persons of African ancestry, it may contribute to the dynamics of the HIV epidemic in Africa.
    Clinical Infectious Diseases 05/2011; 52(10):1248-56. · 9.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We used cutaneous delayed-type hypersensitivity responses, a powerful in vivo measure of cell-mediated immunity, to evaluate the relationships among cell-mediated immunity, AIDS, and polymorphisms in CCR5, the HIV-1 coreceptor. There was high concordance between CCR5 polymorphisms and haplotype pairs that influenced delayed-type hypersensitivity responses in healthy persons and HIV disease progression. In the cohorts examined, CCR5 genotypes containing -2459G/G (HHA/HHA, HHA/HHC, HHC/HHC) or -2459A/A (HHE/HHE) associated with salutary or detrimental delayed-type hypersensitivity and AIDS phenotypes, respectively. Accordingly, the CCR5-Δ32 allele, when paired with non-Δ32-bearing haplotypes that correlate with low (HHA, HHC) versus high (HHE) CCR5 transcriptional activity, associates with disease retardation or acceleration, respectively. Thus, the associations of CCR5-Δ32 heterozygosity partly reflect the effect of the non-▵32 haplotype in a background of CCR5 haploinsufficiency. The correlations of increased delayed-type hypersensitivity with -2459G/G-containing CCR5 genotypes, reduced CCR5 expression, decreased viral replication, and disease retardation suggest that CCR5 may influence HIV infection and AIDS, at least in part, through effects on cell-mediated immunity.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 01/2011; 203(2):263-72. · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aneurysms of the vascular wall represent a final common pathway for a number of inflammatory processes, including atherosclerosis and idiopathic vasculitis syndromes. Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute, self-limited vasculitis in children and the leading cause of acquired coronary artery aneurysms. We sought to identify shared molecular mechanisms of aneurysm formation by genotyping eight polymorphisms in matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, 3, 7, 12 and 13 in the gene cluster on Chr.11q22, whose gene products have been implicated in aneurysm formation or are known to have elastase activity. We genotyped 482 US-UK KD patients (aneurysm+: n=111, aneurysm-: n=371) and tested our findings in an independent cohort of 200 Japanese KD patients (aneurysm+: n=58, aneurysm-: n=142). Analysis of the five MMP genes identified modest trends in allele and genotype frequencies for MMP-3 rs3025058 (-/T) and haplotypes containing MMP-3 rs3025058 (-/T) and MMP-12 rs2276109 (A/G) (nominal P=2 to 4 × 10(-5)) that conferred increased risk of aneurysm formation in US-UK subjects. This finding was validated in Japanese subjects and suggests the importance of this locus in aneurysm formation in children with KD. The region encompassing these risk haplotypes is a prime candidate for resequencing to look for rare genetic variation that may influence aneurysm formation.
    Journal of Human Genetics 12/2010; 55(12):779-84. · 2.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is unknown whether biomarkers simply correlate with or are causal for HIV-associated outcomes. Mendelian randomization is a genetic epidemiologic approach used to disentangle causation from association. Here, we discuss the potential use of Mendelian randomization for differentiating whether biomarkers are correlating with or causal for HIV-associated outcomes. Mendelian randomization refers to the random allocation of alleles at the time of gamete formation. In observational epidemiology, this refers to the use of genetic variants to estimate a causal effect between a modifiable risk factor and an outcome of interest. A formal Mendelian randomization study using a genetic marker as a proxy for the biomarker has not been conducted in the HIV field. However, in the postgenomic era, this approach is being used increasingly. Examples are evidence for the causal role of BMI in blood pressure and noncausal role of C-reactive protein in coronary heart disease. We discuss the conceptual framework, uses, and limitations of Mendelian randomization in the context of HIV infection as well as specific biomarkers (IL-6, C-reactive protein) and genetic determinants (e.g., in CCR5, chemokine, and DARC genes) that associate with HIV-related outcomes. Making the distinction between correlation and causality has particular relevance when a biomarker (e.g., IL-6) is potentially modifiable, in which case a biomarker-guided targeted treatment strategy may be feasible. Although the tenets of Mendelian randomization rest on strong assumptions, and conducting a Mendelian randomization study in HIV infection presents many challenges, it may offer the potential to identify causal biomarkers for HIV-associated outcomes.
    Current opinion in HIV and AIDS 11/2010; 5(6):545-59. · 4.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The etiology of Kawasaki Disease (KD) is enigmatic, although an infectious cause is suspected. Polymorphisms in CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) and/or its potent ligand CCL3L1 influence KD susceptibility in US, European and Korean populations. However, the influence of these variations on KD susceptibility, coronary artery lesions (CAL) and response to intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in Japanese children, who have the highest incidence of KD, is unknown. We used unconditional logistic regression analyses to determine the associations of the copy number of the CCL3L1 gene-containing duplication and CCR2-CCR5 haplotypes in 133 Japanese KD cases [33 with CAL and 25 with resistance to IVIG] and 312 Japanese controls without a history of KD. We observed that the deviation from the population average of four CCL3L1 copies (i.e., four copies) was associated with an increased risk of KD and IVIG resistance (adjusted odds ratio (OR)=2.25, p=0.004 and OR=6.26, p=0.089, respectively). Heterozygosity for the CCR5 HHF*2 haplotype was associated with a reduced risk of both IVIG resistance (OR=0.21, p=0.026) and CAL development (OR=0.44, p=0.071). The CCL3L1-CCR5 axis may play an important role in KD pathogenesis. In addition to clinical and laboratory parameters, genetic markers may also predict risk of CAL and resistance to IVIG.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(7):e11458. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(7). · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Sunil K Ahuja, Weijing He
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 12/2009; 201(2):171-4. · 5.85 Impact Factor
  • Nature medicine 10/2009; 15(10):1117-20. · 28.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Persons of African ancestry, on average, have lower white blood cell (WBC) counts than those of European descent (ethnic leukopenia), but whether this impacts negatively on HIV-1 disease course remains unknown. Here, in a large natural history cohort of HIV-infected subjects, we show that, although leukopenia (< 4000 WBC/mm(3) during infection) was associated with an accelerated HIV disease course, this effect was more prominent in leukopenic subjects of European than African ancestry. The African-specific -46C/C genotype of Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC) confers the malaria-resisting, Duffy-null phenotype, and we found that the recently described association of this genotype with ethnic leukopenia extends to HIV-infected African Americans (AAs). The association of Duffy-null status with HIV disease course differed according to WBC but not CD4(+) T-cell counts, such that leukopenic but not nonleukopenic HIV(+) AAs with DARC -46C/C had a survival advantage compared with all Duffy-positive subjects. This survival advantage became increasingly pronounced in those with progressively lower WBC counts. These data highlight that the interaction between DARC genotype and the cellular milieu defined by WBC counts may influence HIV disease course, and this may provide a partial explanation of why ethnic leukopenia remains benign in HIV-infected AAs, despite immunodeficiency.
    Blood 08/2009; 114(13):2783-92. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite suppression of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) load by highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), recovery of CD4+ T cell counts can be impaired. We investigated whether this impairment may be associated with hyporesponsiveness of T cells to gamma-chain (gammac) cytokines known to influence T cell homeostasis. The responsiveness of T cells to interleukin (IL)-2, IL-7, and IL-15 was determined by assessing cytokine-induced phosphorylation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) in peripheral T cells obtained from 118 HIV-positive subjects and 13 HIV-negative subjects. The responsiveness of T cells to interleukin (IL)-7 but not to IL-2 or IL-15 was lower among HIV-positive subjects than among HIV-negative subjects. Among subjects with viral load suppression, the degree of IL-7 responsiveness (1) correlated with naive CD4+ T cell counts and was a better immune correlate of the prevailing CD4+ T cell count than were levels of human leukocyte antigen-DR1 or programmed death-1, which are predictors of T cell homeostasis during HIV infection; and (2) was greater in subjects with complete (i.e., attainment of >or=500 CD4+ T cells/mm3>or=5 years after initiation of HAART) versus incomplete immunologic responses. The correlation between plasma levels of IL-7 and CD4+ T cell counts during HAART was maximal in subjects with increased IL-7 responsiveness. Responsiveness of T cells to IL-7 is associated with higher CD4+ T cell counts during HAART and thus may be a determinant of the extent of immune reconstitution.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 07/2009; 199(12):1872-82. · 5.78 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

610 Citations
344.72 Total Impact Points


  • 2009–2013
    • University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler
      Tyler, Texas, United States
    • Dnepropetrovsk State Medical Academy
      Yekaterinoslav, Dnipropetrovs'ka Oblast', Ukraine
    • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
      • Department of Medicine
      Lubbock, TX, United States
  • 2006–2011
    • University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
      • Division of Hospital Medicine
      San Antonio, Texas, United States
  • 2010
    • University of California, San Diego
      San Diego, California, United States
  • 2008
    • Henry M Jackson Foundation
      Maryland City, Maryland, United States