A Biomarker Pattern Allows Differentiating Pre and Postseroconversion Phases in Individuals Recently Infected with HIV

The study findings identify an immune response profile characteristic of the phase preceding the production of virus-specific antibodies

Photo: CDC

A study led by Denise Naniche, ISGlobal researcher, in collaboration with researchers from  IrsiCaixa and the Manhiça Health Research Center (CISM), identifies a series of 4 biomarkers whose levels permit determining whether a recently infected patient (primary infection) is in the pre or post-seroconversion phase (i.e. before or after generating virus-specific antibodies). The identification of this pattern of innate response – the first line of immune defense – will not only help to understand the earliest HIV pathogenic events but will also contribute to identify new potential targets for immunotherapies aimed at modulating the immune response in the first phases of infection.   

Acute HIV infection is defined as the period between viral transmission and the development of an antibody response to the virus (seroconversion) and is characterized by high viral replication, destruction of gut-associated lymphoid cells, and the establishment of viral reservoirs. In this study, the authors sought to identify profiles of cytokine (proteins secreted by immune cells) expression characteristic of the pre or the post-seroconversion phase.  In the context of the GAMA project, performed in the Manhiça Hospital in Mozambique, they studied a cohort of 85 patients in acute (preseroconversion) and recent phase (postseroconversion). From a total of 49 cytokines studied, they found two (BAFF and MCP-1) that were positively associated and two (sCD136 and MCP-1) that were negatively associated to the preseroconversion group.   

 “This is the first time that a cytokine signature is shown to be associated with the preseroconversion phase of primary HIV infections”, explains Lucia Pastor, first author of the study. “Importantly, such profile could reveal new ways to boost the antibody-mediated response in HIV vaccination strategies”, adds Naniche



Pastor L, Parker E, Carrillo J, Urrea V, Fuente-Soro L, Respeito D, Jairoce C, Mandomando I, Blanco J1, Naniche D. A cytokine pattern that differentiates pre- from post- seroconversion phases of primary HIV infection. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016 Dec 8.