Evaluation of immune activation in HIV-infected and uninfected African individuals by single-cell analysis of cytokine production

Matthew Lukwiya, Giuliano Rizzardini, Daria Trabattoni, Stefania Piconi, Marina Saresella, Silvia Declich, Sabrina Fossati, Mario Clerici

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Immune activation has been observed in HIV-infected and uninfected Africans, among whom it is thought to modify interaction between the immune system and HIV. To characterize this phenomenon accurately, in-depth immunologic analyses were performed in a rural African population. Freshly drawn peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of HIV-infected African (from Gulu, Uganda) and Italian antiviral-naive patients and those of uninfected Ugandan and Italian study subjects were analyzed. Individuals were matched for age and sex and determined to be free from parasitic infections. Intracellular cytokines were measured in mitogen (M)- and gp160 peptides + staphylococcal enterotoxin B and αCD28 (env)-stimulated T lymphocytes. Interferon (IFN)-γ-producing CD8+ T cells were quantified in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results showed that M-stimulated production of interleukin (IL)-10 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α increases in CD4+ and CD8+ cells of African infected patients and uninfected study subject; and that env-stimulated IL-10 and TNF-α production is increased in CD8+ T lymphocytes of African HIV-infected patients. M- and env-stimulated IFN-γ-producing CD8+ T cells were reduced in African participants and not increased by preincubation with αIL-10 monoclonal antibody. This is the first set of data that has reported immune activation in rural Africa by single-cell analysis of cytokine production. These results help in defining the immunologic background to be considered in the design of therapeutic and vaccine-based approaches to HIV infection in an African setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-436
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2001


  • Africa
  • Cytokine
  • HIV infection
  • Immune activation
  • Immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Immunology


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