Infants with late breast milk acquisition of HIV-1 generate interferon-gamma responses more rapidly than infants with early peripartum acquisition
Slyker, J. A.
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Infants infected with HIV-1 after the first month of life have a lower viral set-point and slower disease progression than infants infected before 1 month. We investigated the kinetics of HIV-1-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte secretion of interferon (IFN)-g in infants infected before 1 month of life compared with those infected between months 1 and 12 (late infection). HIV-1 infection was assessed at birth and at months 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 and timing of infection was determined by HIV-1 gag DNA from dried blood spots and verified by plasma HIV-1 RNA levels. HIV-1 peptide-specific IFN-g responses were measured by enzyme-linked immunospot at months 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12. Timing of development of IFN-g responses was compared using the log–rank test and Kaplan–Meier survival curves. Infants infected late developed HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell responses 2·8 months sooner than infants infected peripartum: 2·3 versus 5·1 months after HIV-1 infection (n = 52, P = 0·04). Late-infected infants had more focused epitope recognition than early-infected infants (median 1 versus 2 peptides, P = 0·03); however, there were no differences in the strength of IFN-g responses. In infants infected with HIV-1 after the first month of life, emergence of HIV- 1-specific CD8+ IFN-g responses is coincident with the decline in viral load, nearly identical to what is observed in adults and more rapid than in earlyinfected infants.