Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)

Effect of age on the CD4⁺ T-cell impairment in HIV-infected persons without and with cART.

PMID 24378723


Knowledge about HIV infection in older persons is becoming increasingly important. CD4⁺ T cells are essential for protective immunity, but little is known about the effect of age on the CD4⁺ T-cell impairment in HIV infection. Treatment-naive patients aged older than 50 or younger than 40 years were studied for absolute and relative frequencies of CD31⁺ naive and CD31⁻ naive CD4⁺ T cells, central memory, effector memory, and terminally differentiated CD4⁺ T cells, and compared with age-matched controls. In addition, cellular proliferation and cytokine secretion properties were determined. CD4⁺ T-cell reconstitution was analyzed in older and younger patients with <350 or ≥ 350 CD4⁺ T cells per microliter at initiation of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). CD4⁺ T cells of older but not younger HIV-infected patients showed age-inappropriate low levels of CD31⁻ naive cells, increased levels of effector memory cells, and enhanced interferonγ and interleukin-17 secretion. Impaired CD4⁺ T-cell composition persisted in patients who initiated cART at <350 CD4⁺ T cells per microliter. In patients with CD4⁺ T cells ≥ 350 per microliter, alterations were less pronounced and were reversible with cART. Compared with age-matched controls, total CD4⁺ T-cell counts did not differ between treated younger and older HIV-infected patients. These data demonstrate that aging enhances the CD4⁺ T-cell impairment in HIV-infected persons mainly by a loss of CD31⁻ naive cells, accumulation of effector memory cells, and increased pro-inflammatory effector functions. Age-related changes in CD4⁺ T-cell composition can be prevented by an early initiation of cART.