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Immunological profiles in HIV positive patients following Haart initiation in Kigali, Rwanda

AP Twizerimana
J Mwatha
JP Musabyimana
E Kayigi
J De Dieu Harelimana
SM Karanja
L Mutesa


Background: Interleukin-10, IL-2 and IFN -γ are some of the crucial cytokines associated with HIV infection and pathogenesis. While IL-2 and IFN-γ play critical roles in host resistance to infection, IL-10 inhibits the synthesis IFN-γ, IL-2 at mRNA and protein level; exacerbating damage to immune system.
Objective: To determine the levels of, changes in and correlation between CD4 count, viral load, IL-10, IL-2 and IFN-γ before HAART and at six months of HAART among HIV positive patients in Kigali; with a view to understand cytokine networks particularly in relation to HAART ; and to see whether they can be used as alternative markers of the disease progression.
Design: Longitudinal study.
Setting: Kagugu, Kimironko, Biryogo, Gitega Health Centres and Centre Medico-Social Cornum; all located in Kigali.
Subjects: Thirty three (33) HAART initiation eligible HIV positive patients including 13 women and 20 men.
Results: A drop in viral load (though only a small number of patients achieved an undetectable viraemia); a recovery of CD4+ cells, a decrease in IL-10 (though it remained high for many patients especially those with unchanged viraemia); and an increase in IL-2 and IFN-γ indicated a successful HAART . A negative correlation between CD4 count and viral load and between CD4 count and IL-10 (but r <-0.5) was observed. IL-10 correlated positively and strongly with viremia (r > 0.5 at both time points: p-values <0.05). There was no significant correlation between CD4 count, IL-2 and IFN-γ.
Conclusion: Results demonstrated the down-regulatory effect of IL-10 on Th1 cytokines and that a shift from Th1 to Th2 cytokine is associated with HIV disease progression. A successful HAART results in CD4+ cells recovery, drop in viraemia and IL-10 with up-regulation of Th1 cytokines. Also, findings show potential usefulness of IL-10 as a marker of HIV disease progression.

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