Open Access Research article

Different profiles of immune reconstitution in children and adults with HIV-infection after highly active antiretroviral therapy

Salvador Resino1*, Elena Seoane1, Alicia Pérez1, Ezequiel Ruiz-Mateos2, Manuel Leal2 and Maria Á Muñoz-Fernández1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratorio de Inmuno-Biología Molecular, Hospital General Universitario "Gregorio Marañón", Madrid, Spain

2 Grupo de Estudio Hepatitis Vírica y SIDA, Hospital Universitario "Virgen del Rocío", Sevilla, Spain

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:112  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-112

Published: 13 July 2006



Recent advances in characterizing the immune recovery of HIV-1-infected people have highlighted the importance of the thymus for peripheral T-cell diversity and function. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in immune reconstitution profiles after highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) between HIV-children and adults.


HIV patients were grouped according to their previous clinical and immunological status: 9 HIV-Reconstituting-adults (HIV-Rec-adults) and 10 HIV-Reconstituting-children (HIV-Rec-children) on HAART with viral load (VL) ≤400 copies/ml and CD4+ ≥500 cells/μL at least during 6 months before the study and CD4+ ≤300 cells/μL anytime before. Fifteen healthy-adults and 20 healthy-children (control subjects) were used to calculate Z-score values to unify value scales between children and adults to make them comparable.


HIV-Rec-children had higher T-cell receptor excision circles (TREC) and lower interleukin (IL)-7 levels than HIV-Rec-adults (p < 0.05). When we analyzed Z-score values, HIV-Rec-children had higher TREC Z-score levels (p = 0.03) than HIV-Rec-adults but similar IL-7 Z-score levels. Regarding T-cell subsets, HIV-Rec-children had higher naïve CD4+ (CD4+CD45RA hi+CD27+), naïve CD8+ (CD8+CD45RA hi+CD27+), and memory CD8+ (CD8+CD45RO+) cells/μl than HIV-Rec-adults, but similar memory CD4+ (CD4+CD45RO+) counts. HIV-Rec-children had lower naïve CD8+ Z-score values than HIV-Rec-adults (p = 0.05).


Our data suggest that HIV-Rec-children had better thymic function than HIV-Rec-adults and this fact affects the peripheral T-cell subsets. Thus, T-cell recovery after HAART in HIV-Rec-adults could be the consequence of antigen-independent peripheral T-cell expansion while in HIV-Rec-children thymic output could play a predominant role in immune reconstitution.