Evidence for type 2 cytokine production and lymphocyte activation in the early phases of HIV-1 infection

Luca Meroni, Daria Trabattoni, Claudia Balotta, Chiara Riva, Andrea Gori, Mauro Moroni, Maria Luisa Villa, Mario Clerici, Massimo Galli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To analyse changes in cytokine production in vitro and T-lymphocyte immunophenotype in the early phases of HIV-1 infection. Design and methods: Mitogen-stimulated in vitro production of interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-2 (type 1 cytokines), IL-4, and IL-lO (type 2 cytokines) and surface expression of activation and non-activation markers were evaluated in 11 individuals HIV-infected for >3 but 3 years previously and who were stratified according to CD4+ lymphocyte count (group 1: >500x106/l, group 2: 6/l CD4 cells) and in 12 HIV-seronegative healthy controls. Results: We observed that the early phase of HIV infection is characterized by (1) reduced mitogen-stimulated IL-2 and IFN-γ production, (2) increased mitogen-stimulated IL-4 and IL-lO production, (3) a relative decrease in CD4+ and CD4+CD7- as well as an increase in CD4+CD7-CD57+ lymphocytes, and (4) a relative increase in CD8+, CD8+CD38+ and CD8+CD57+ T lymphocytes. In addition, during a 6-month follow-up of six seroconverters we observed a dynamic pattern of changes of these parameters in most individuals, with a resulting profile similar to that observed in group 1 HIV-positive patients. Conclusion: The early phase of HIV infection is immunologically characterized by type 2 cytokine secretion and alterations in the expression of phenotypic markers, and closely resembles the more advanced phases of HIV infection. These immunologic alterations are temporally limited by the successive return to a more normal profile. Thus, HIV infection is an immunological complex dynamic process even in its earliest phases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS (London, England)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Cytokines
  • Disease progression
  • HIV infection
  • Immunology
  • T lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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