GB Virus Type C Co-Infection
Friday, 1:30 - 3:30 pm
Background: †GB virus C (GBV-C) has been shown to be associated with improved survival in HIV-1-infected individuals. However, the exact mechanism for slower disease progression in HIV-1/GBV-C co-infection remains to be identified. As cellular immune responses play a critical role in the control of viral replication, understanding the effect of co-infection with GBV-C on T-cell responses directed against HIV-1 may yield important insights for understanding disease progression and immune control. Furthermore to date no data are available on cellular immune responses directed against GBV-C.
Methods: †We screened a cohort of 200 HIV-1-infected patients at different stages of HIV-1 clade B and C infection for the presence of GBV-C-RNA using nested RT-PCR. A subset of this cohort was evaluated for T-cell responses directed against the entire expressed HIV-1 genome using an IFN-g ELISpot assay. Total breadth and magnitude of the HIV-1 specific T-cell response were compared in individuals with and without GBV-C co-infection. Selected study subjects were also screened for GBV-C specific T-cell responses directed against the NS3 protein using overlapping peptides based on the patientsí autologous GBV-C sequences.
Results: †GBV-C RNA was detected in 49% of the study subjects. HIV-1 viral loads were significantly lower in GBV-C RNA positive compared to GBV-C RNA negative individuals (p < 0.02). HIV-1-specific CD8 T-cell responses were detectable in all subjects and no significant difference in breadth and magnitude of the total HIV-1-specific response was observed between the 2 groups. In a subset of GBV-C-positive individuals examined in detail, we detected GBV-C-specific CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses by IFN-γ ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining assays, which were narrowly directed and of low magnitude.
Conclusions: †GBV-C co-infection is frequently seen in HIV-1-infected individuals and associated with lower HIV-1 viral loads in co-infected individuals. Our data further suggest that co-infection with GBV-C does not influence the breadth and the magnitude of the HIV-1-specific CD8 response. This study also provides the first evidence of detectable GBV-C-specific T-cell responses. The exact mechanisms of a more favorable prognosis for disease progression in GBV-C/HIV-1 co-infected individuals remain to be identified.
Keywords: GBV-C; HIV disease progression; T cell immunity