Distribution of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Ribonucleic Acid in Cerebrospinal Fluid and Blood Is Linked to CD4/CD8 Ratio During Acute HIV

J Infect Dis. 2018 Aug 14;218(6):937-945. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiy260.


Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) ribonucleic acid (RNA) levels in the plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are correlated in chronic HIV infection, but their dynamics have not been characterized during acute infection.

Methods: This study analyzed predictors of CSF HIV RNA and relative degree of CNS viral transmigration expressed as plasma minus CSF HIV log10 RNA (PCratio) during untreated acute HIV infection. Cerebrospinal fluid immune markers were compared between groups with different PCratio.

Results: One hundred seventeen mostly male (97%) participants in the RV254 cohort in Bangkok, Thailand, had a median age of 28 years and an estimated median 18 days duration of infection; 43 (37%) were Fiebig stages I/II. Twenty-seven (23%) had CSF HIV RNA <80 copies/mL. Those with quantifiable levels (n = 90) had median CSF HIV RNA and PCratio of 3.76 and 2.36 log10 copies/mL, respectively. Human immunodeficiency virus RNA peaked at Fiebig III in plasma and Fiebig IV in CSF. In multivariable analyses, plasma HIV RNA and CD4/CD8 ratio independently correlated with CSF HIV RNA (P < .001), whereas CD4/CD8 ratio predicted PCratio (P = .018). Participants with PCratio <1 had higher CSF neopterin, soluble (s)CD163, interleukin-6, and sCD14 levels (all P < .05).

Conclusions: CD4/CD8 ratio independently correlated with CSF HIV RNA and PCratio, suggesting that immune responses modulate central nervous system viral entry at early infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • CD4-CD8 Ratio
  • Central Nervous System / virology
  • Female
  • HIV / genetics*
  • HIV / pathogenicity
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / cerebrospinal fluid
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • RNA, Viral / blood*
  • RNA, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Thailand
  • Virus Internalization
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Viral