Rotavirus antigen, cytokine, and neutralising antibody profiles in sera of children with and without HIV infection in Blantyre, Malawi
Background: Rotavirus and HIV infection are major causes of death among children in sub-Saharan Africa. A previous study reported no association between concomitant HIV infection and rotavirus disease severity among hospitalised children in Malawi. This study examined rotavirus antigenaemia and broader immune responses among HIV-infected and uninfected children.
Methods: Stored (−80°C), paired sera from acute and convalescent phases of Malawian children less than 5 years old, hospitalised for acute gastroenteritis in the primary study, collected from July 1997 to June 1999, were utilised. Among children older than 15 months, HIV infection was defined as the presence of HIV antibody in the blood, when confirmed by at least 2 established methods. For those younger than 15 months, nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of proviral DNA was used for verification. All were followed for up to 4 weeks after hospital discharge. Rotavirus antigen levels in sera were measured with Premier™ Rotaclone® rotavirus enzyme immunoassay (EIA) kit. Acute-phase sera were examined for 17 cytokines, using Luminex fluorescent bead human cytokine immunoassay kit. Rotavirus-specific IgA and neutralising activity were determined by EIA and microneutralisation (MN) assay, respectively. Human strains and bovine–human reassortants were propagated in MA104 cells with serum-free Iscove’s Modified Dulbecco’s Medium (IMDM). Differences in results, from specimens with and without HIV infection, were analysed for statistical significance using the chi-square test.
Results: We detected rotavirus antigen in 30% of the HIV-infected and 21% HIV-uninfected, in the acute-phase sera. HIV-infected children developed slightly prolonged rotavirus antigenaemia compared to HIV-uninfected children.
Conclusions: Rotavirus-specific IgA seroconversion rates and neutralising titres were similar in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected children, thus, HIV infection had no major effect on immune responses to rotavirus infection.