Short- and long-term effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy on Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus immune responses and viraemia

AIDS. 2004 Feb 20;18(3):485-93. doi: 10.1097/00002030-200402200-00015.


Objective: To investigate the effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) DNA load, anti-KSHV antibody responses and KSHV-specific CD8 T cell responses in HIV-infected individuals over a 2 year period.

Design: Prospective study of 27 HIV-infected antiretroviral therapy-naive individuals, with (n = 4) and without KS (n = 23), before HAART and at 3-month intervals, during treatment with HAART.

Methods: Sequential blood samples were collected for anti-KSHV antibody detection, KSHV DNA load in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and plasma, HIV Gag-specific and KSHV-specific CD8 T cell responses, HIV-1 plasma RNA load and CD4 and CD8 T cell counts.

Results: KSHV DNA in PBMC and plasma became less detectable over time during HAART, in particular after 12 months. KSHV DNA was undetectable in plasma after 24 months on HAART. Anti-KSHV lytic, but not latent, antibody levels increased within 12 months of treatment. KSHV-specific CD8 T cell responses were absent prior to HAART but became detectable in some patients within 6 months of starting treatment, and continued to increase thereafter.

Conclusions: HAART (both protease inhibitor-based and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-based antiretroviral combinations) is associated with immune reconstitution to KSHV and with undetectable KSHV viraemia. However, this restoration is apparent (in particular) only after a relatively long (> 24 months) period of treatment. These immune responses could contribute to the decreased incidence of KS during HAART, but it is unlikely to be a complete explanation for the often rapid resolution of KS when HAART is started.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / biosynthesis
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / immunology*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / virology
  • Viral Load
  • Viremia / immunology*
  • Viremia / virology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • DNA, Viral