Potent antiretroviral therapy of primary human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection: partial normalization of T lymphocyte subsets and limited reduction of HIV-1 DNA despite clearance of plasma viremia.J Infect Dis 1999; 180(2):320-9JI
Antiretroviral therapy commenced during primary human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection (PHI) may limit the extent of viral replication and prevent early loss of HIV-specific CD4 lymphocyte function. We studied the effect of current standard therapy (2 nucleoside analogues and a protease inhibitor) in 16 patients with symptomatic PHI. In the 13 patients who completed 1 year of treatment, plasma HIV RNA was <50 copies/mL and median CD4 cell counts were comparable to HIV-uninfected controls, with naive (CD45RA+CD62L+), primed (CD45RO+), and T cell receptor Vbeta subsets all within normal ranges. However, HIV-1 DNA levels in treated and untreated PHI patients were similar. Furthermore, CD8 cell counts remained elevated, including activated (CD38+HLA-DR+), replicating (Ki-67+), and cytotoxic (perforin+CD28-) lymphocytes. In conclusion, early antiretroviral therapy resulted in clearance of viremia and prevented loss of crucial CD4 subsets. The persistence of HIV-1 DNA together with increased CD8 T lymphocyte turnover and activation indicate continued expression of viral antigens.