Reduction of IFN-γ and IL-2 production by peripheral lymphocytes of HIV-exposed seronegative subjects

Emanuele Nicastri, Loredana Sarmati, Lucia Ercoli, Giorgio Mancino, Ettore D'Ambrosio, Gabriella D'Ettorre, Claudio M. Mastroianni, Vincenzo Vullo, Massimo Andreoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: In order to evaluate the role played by cytokine profile as a co-factor involved in the resistance to HIV infection in couples serodiscordant for HIV, we studied HIV-seronegative subjects with multiple unprotected sexual exposures. Design and methods: Twenty-one HIV-exposed seronegative subjects (HEPS), their 21 HIV-seropositive partners and 10 HIV-seronegative unexposed individuals were studied for T helper (Th) types 1-2 cell pattern and CCR5 receptor. Results: Twelve out of 21 HIV-seropositive partners of HEPS showed a CD4 cell count below 200 lymphocyte/μl. HIV strains were isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in 17 patients (81%): seven subjects with syncytium-inducing strains and 10 with non-syncytium-inducing isolates. Low Th1 cytokine production and high levels of IL-4 were detected in HIV-seropositive subjects. A significant reduction of IL-2 and IFN-γ expression in the CD4 and CD8 cells of HEPS was found compared with HIV-seronegative unexposed individuals. Similar levels of low IL-4 were present in both HEPS and controls. The partial deletion of a single allele (wild type/Δ32) of CCR5 was found in only one HEPS. Conclusion: The downregulated Th1 profile we observed in HEPS could be related to a cellular anergy state with a protective role in the transmission rate of HIV. Low levels of IL-2 and IFN-γ could be involved in a low-grade activation state of CD4 lymphocytes. A decrease of IFN-γ levels could render macrophage cells incapable of antigen presentation, thus resulting in a reduction of the cell-to-cell spread of infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1333-1336
Number of pages4
JournalAIDS (London, England)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • HIV-serodiscordant couples
  • Intracellular cytokines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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