BackgroundSeasonal influenza has been associated with greater morbidity and mortality in AIDS patients. Highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has led to some reduction in influenza-related complications but the nature of naturally-acquired T-cell immunity to influenza virus in an African setting, and how this changes with immune reconstitution following HAART is unknown. We measured influenza-specific CD4(+) T-cell immunity in unimmunized HIV-infected Malawian adults and then investigated immune reconstitution following HAART.
MethodsPeripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated from HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected Malawian adults. CFSE proliferation and CD154 expression flow cytometry-based assays were used to measure influenza-specific CD4(+) T-cell immunity.
ResultsWe found lower naturally-acquired proliferative influenza-specific CD4(+) T-cell responses in AIDS patients that was also present in asymptomatic HIV-infected adults with relatively high CD4 counts (>350 cells/µl). Influenza-specific CD4(+) T-cell immune reconstitution in HIV-infected patients on HAART for 12 months was poor despite a marked reduction in viral load and an increase in CD4 count. This poor immune reconstitution was characterised by a low influenza-specific proliferative CD4(+) T-cell response and reduced proportions of CD154-expressing influenza-specific CD4(+) T-cells in peripheral blood.
ConclusionOur data suggest that asymptomatic HIV-infected adults may also be at risk of influenza-related complications and that HAART alone may not circumvent this risk in AIDS patients. This study highlights the need to identify possible interventions early in HIV infection to reduce the risk of influenza and to intensify influenza surveillance in these susceptible African populations.
SUBMITTER: Jambo KC