Context: There have been few longitudinal studies of cytokine production in neonatally acquired HIV-1 infection and none in Asian or Chinese children.
Objective: To determine whether monitoring cytokine production could contribute to the better management of pediatric patients with HIV-1 infection.
Setting: Clinical Immunology Laboratory and Pediatrics Department, University Hospital, Hong Kong.
Patients: Ten Asian and 2 Eurasian children infected with HIV-1 by mother-to-child transmission were followed for up to 5 years while on treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Main outcome measures: Numbers of unstimulated and mitogen-activated cytokine-secreting cells (IFN-gamma, interleukin [IL]-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-12, and TNF-alpha) were measured by ELISPOT assay at frequent intervals, and correlations were sought with CD4+ and CD8+ cell counts and viral loads.
Results: Mitogen-stimulated IL-2-secreting cells were directly associated with recovery of CD4+ cells. Correlations with viral load were found for Con A-induced IFN-gamma, Con A-induced IL-4, and unstimulated IL-10, suggesting that these cytokines were either suppressed by high virus levels or that higher cytokine levels suppressed virus. IFN-gamma, IL-2-, IL-4-, and IL-12-secreting cells induced by PHA, Con A, and/or SAC tended to increase for the first 3-4 years of treatment but declined thereafter.
Conclusions: Alterations in cytokine profiles were not associated with adverse clinical events and there was little evidence to indicate that monitoring cytokine enzyme-linked immunospots (ELISPOTs) could contribute to pediatric patient management.