Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – Antibody Repertoire Estimates Reservoir Size and Time of Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation in Virally Suppressed Perinatally HIV-Infected Children

Authors: S. Rocca, P. Zangari, N. Cotugno, A. De Rossi, B. Ferns, D. Petricone, S. Rinaldi, C. Giaquinto, S. Bernardi, P. Rojo, P. Rossi, S. Pahwa, E. Nastouli, P. Palma; on behalf of the EPIICAL Consortium

2018/09/04

Background. Assays to estimate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reservoir size require large amounts of blood, which represents a drawback especially in pediatric settings. We investigated whether HIV-antibody repertoire could estimate the viral reservoir size. Moreover, we assessed the magnitude of HIV-antibody response as a predictor of time of antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation.

Methods. Human immunodeficiency virus-antibody responses to 10 different viral proteins were evaluated by HIV Western blot (WB) kit and a WB score was assigned to each patient. Patients were classified in 2 subgroups based on the timing of ART initiation (early treated [ET], 0–24 weeks and late treated [LT], >24 weeks). Human immunodeficiency virus-deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was quantified using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction on total peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Logistic regression and principal component analysis were built on these data to test the ability of WB score to predict the expected value of HIV-DNA and the timing of ART initiation.

Results. Sixty-nine perinatally HIV-infected children were evaluated. Reduced HIV-specific antibody responses and lower size of HIV-DNA were observed in ET compared with LT patients (P < .001 and P = .02, respectively). We found that WB score correlates with HIV-DNA (P = .032) and timing of ART initiation (P < .001). Based on the logistic regression analysis, we found that WB score can predict the HIV-DNA size and the timing of ART initiation with an Akaike information criterion of −118.13 and −151.51, respectively.

Conclusions. Western blot score can estimate HIV-DNA size and timing of ART initiation in long-term virally suppressed children. This rapid, inexpensive, and easily reproducible tool can provide useful information to identify potential candidates for HIV remission studies.

Read the article in the Journal of the Paediatric Infectious Deseases Society website.