Objective: Recent epidemiological studies in adults suggest that HAART can prevent the development of tuberculosis in HIV-infected individuals, but the mechanisms are incompletely understood and no data exist in children. We investigated whether changes in mycobacterial-specific immune responses can be demonstrated in children after commencing antiretroviral therapy. Design: We measured mycobacterial growth in vitro using a novel whole-blood assay employing reporter-gene tagged bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) in a prospective cohort study in the tuberculosis-endemic environment of South Africa. Key cytokines were measured in supernatants collected from the whole-blood assay using cytometric bead array. Patients: A cohort of 15 BCG-vaccinated HIV-infected children was evaluated prospectively for in-vitro antimycobacterial immune responses before and during the first year of HAART. All children had advanced HIV disease. Nine children completed all study timepoints. Results: Before HAART, blood from children showed limited ability to restrict the growth of mycobacteria in the functional whole-blood assay. The introduction of HAART was followed by rapid and sustained reconstitution of specific antimycobacterial immune responses, measured as the decreased growth of mycobacteria. IFN-γ levels in culture supernatants did not reflect this response; however, a decline in TNF-α was observed. Conclusion: This is the first study using a functional in-vitro assay to assess the effect of HAART on immune responses to mycobacteria in HIV-infected children. Our in-vitro data mirror the in-vivo observation of decreased susceptibility to tuberculosis in HIV-infected adults receiving antiretroviral agents. This model may be useful for further characterizing immune reconstitution after HAART.
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 2006|