Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether coinfection with HIV affects the synthesis of Th1 and Th2 cytokines by peripheral blood T cells of women infected with human papillomavirus (HPV).
Methods: Cervical swabs and peripheral blood were obtained from women referred for colposcopy. HPV DNA by Digene's hybrid capture assay, HIV RNA by Roche's Amplicor assay, and cytokine synthesis of T-cell subsets by flow cytometry were assessed. HPV-associated cervical and HIV-associated immune deficiency diseases were staged using the Bethesda System and the Centers for Disease Control criteria, respectively.
Results: Patients with HIV and/or HPV infections had lower percentages of IL-2(+) and higher percentages of IL-10(+) T cells than healthy women. Furthermore, women with both virus infections (HIV(+)/HPV(+)) had significantly fewer IL-2(+) CD4(+), IFN-gamma(+) CD4(+), and TNF-alpha(+) CD4(+) T cells than women with HPV infection alone (HPV(+)). Whereas HIV(+) and healthy women had similar numbers of IFN-gamma(+) CD8(+) T cells, HPV(+) women had significantly fewer IFN-gamma(+) CD8(+) T cells than healthy women.
Conclusion: HIV infection adversely affects the synthesis of Th1 cytokines by CD4(+), but not IFN-gamma synthesis by CD8(+) T cells of women with active HPV infection. The increase in IFNgamma(+) CD8(+) T cells, a phenotype consistent with cytotoxic T lymphocytes, may account for the stable HIV disease of the women studied. However, the increase in IFN-gamma(+) CD8(+) T cells is less likely to be HPV-specific as there was a higher incidence of HPV-related cervical SIL in HIV(+)/HPV(+) women compared with HPV(+) women.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.