HIV disease progression is associated with marked change in the level of plasma cytokines. The study reported here investigated the level of mRNA expression of different cytokines: TNF alpha, INF-gamma, IL-10 and IL-21 in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) among the HIV infected individuals with viral opportunistic infections.
We quantified the mRNA levels of 4 cytokines in PBMC directly from the blood of individuals infected with HIV and normal healthy controls using TaqMan based RealTime PCR.
The mRNA expressions of all the 4 cytokines in HIV-1 infected individuals were significantly higher compared to healthy controls (p value range 0.0004-0.01). The mean level of IL-10, INF-gamma and TNF alpha were higher in HIV infected individuals with low CD4 counts (<300 cells/µL). The IL-10 expression showed a significant negative correlation with CD4 counts (r = -0.25, p = 0.04) while IL-21 showed a positive correlation with CD4 counts (r = 0.26, p = 0.03). There was significant negative correlation between the CMV viral load and IL-21 expression.
The study showed a significant negative correlation between CD4+ T cell counts and IL-10 mRNA expression showing a shift towards TH2 profile during the late stages of the HIV disease in subtype C infected individuals. This study on HIV-1 subtype C infected individuals with opportunistic viral infections like EBV and CMV adding new information in such specific opportunistic infections.