Cell-mediated immunity and T-lymphocyte maturation are impaired in HIV-infected children. These abnormalities would be detected in HIV-uninfected offspring of HIV women (seroreverters [SR]) if HIV or its soluble proteins could cross the placental barrier. Immunophenotypic analyses were performed in 20 healthy HIV-uninfected newborns of HIV-infected mothers (SR), and in 14 healthy newborns of HIV-negative women (UC). The same analyses were performed in 3 groups of older children: SR (n = 41); UC (n = 15); and HIV-infected children (n = 25). Antigen-specific cells were evaluated with ELISpot and fluorimetric analyses; IL-7 serum concentration was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Results showed that in SR newborns: (1) the CD4/CD8 ratio was reduced, (2) CD4+ and CD8+ naive T-cell percentages were decreased, (3) percentage of activated CD8+ T cells was increased, and (4) percentages of CD3+/4/8 (DN) and DN/25/44+ were augmented. These abnormalities were partially retained in older SR children. CD4+ and CD8+ HIV-specific cells were detected in a portion of newborn SRs but not in older SRs. Serum IL-7 was augmented both in newborn and older SRs. Cell-mediated immunity and T-cell maturation are altered even in HIV-uninfected newborns of HIV-infected mothers; these abnormalities persist over time. The biologic significance of these observations and potential subsequent clinical events should be investigated in larger cohorts of seroreverters.

  • Submitted February 25, 2000.
  • Accepted August 3, 2000.
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