ABSTRACT: A recent theory stipulates that during the course of HIV infection, there is a shift in immune response from T-helper 1 to T-helper 2 responses, characterised by elevated secretions of relevant cytokines. Cytokine profiles of 15 asymptomatic (treatment naïve) and 26 symptomatic (undergoing treatment) HIV-1 patients was determined to investigate the validity of this theory. HIV-1 RNA was quantified using the COBAS TaqMan HIV-1 test, CD4 T-cell counts with the FACSCalibur flow cytometer and IL-1, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10 and IFN-gamma cytokine levels by ELISA method. The asymptomatic group had significantly higher RNA levels (p-value; 0.000006) and lower CD4 T-cell counts than the symptomatic group indicating ongoing disease progression in the absence of antiretroviral treatment and a positive response to HIV treatment by the symptomatic group. IL-1, IL-4 and IFN-gamma were undetectable in most study subjects. IL-10 and IL-6 levels was relatively lower in the asymptomatic group (mean value; 206.352 pg/ml, 10.516 pg/ml) than the symptomatic group (mean value; 417.539, 18.387 pg/ml). Lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1, IFN-gamma) in both study groups and elevated levels of anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, confirms that there is a shift in immune response as HIV infection progress to AIDS. In addition, the presence of a progressive trend of anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10 and proinflammatory cytokine, IL-6 in 12 symptomatic patients tested 3 months after antiretroviral therapy indicates an attempt by antiretrovirals to restore immune function.
Roumanian archives of microbiology and immunology 69(1):24-34.