Safety and tolerance of lymph node biopsies from chronic HIV-1 volunteers in rural Tanzania

BMC Res Notes. 2019 Sep 6;12(1):561. doi: 10.1186/s13104-019-4600-x.


Objective: HIV-1 rapidly establishes a persistent infection that can be contained under life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) but not cured. One major viral reservoir is the peripheral lymph node (LN) follicles. Studying the impact of novel HIV-1 treatment and vaccination approaches on cells residing in germinal centers is essential for rapid progress towards HIV-1 prevention and cure.

Results: We enrolled 9 asymptomatic adult volunteers with a newly diagnosed HIV-1 infection and CD4 T cell counts ≥ 350/ml. The patients underwent venous blood collection and inguinal lymph node excision surgery in parallel. Mononuclear cells were extracted from blood and tissues simultaneously. Participants were followed up regularly for 2 weeks until complete healing of the surgical wounds. All participants completed the lymph node excision surgery without clinical complications. Among the 9 volunteers, one elite controller was identified. The number of mononuclear cells recovered from lymph nodes ranged from 68 to 206 million and correlated positively with lymph node size. This is the first study to show that lymph node biopsy is a safe procedure and can be undertaken with local experts in rural settings. It provides a foundation for detailed immune response investigations during future clinical trials.

Keywords: Chronic; Elite controller; HIV-1; KIULARCO cohort; Lymph node biopsy; Tanzania.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / drug effects*
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Tanzania
  • Volunteers
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents