Objective: To evaluate long-term immune reconstitution of children treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Methods: The long-term immunological response to HAART was studied in 71 HIV-1-infected children (aged 1 month to 18 years) in two prospective, open, uncontrolled national multicentre studies. Blood samples were taken before and after HAART was initiated, with a follow-up of 96 weeks, and peripheral CD4 and CD8 T cells plus naive and memory subsets were identified in whole blood samples. Relative cell counts were calculated in relation to the median of the age-specific reference. Results: The absolute CD4 cell count and percentage and the CD4 cell count as a percentage of normal increased significantly (P < 0.001) to medians of 939 × 106 cells/l (range, 10-3520), 32% (range, 1-50) and 84% (range, 1-161), respectively, after 48 weeks. This increase was predominantly owing to naive CD4 T cells. There was a correlation between the increase of absolute naive CD4 T cell counts and age. However, when CD4 T cell restoration was studied as percentage of normal values, the inverse correlation between the increase of naive CD4 T cell count and age was not observed. In addition, no difference in immunological reconstitution was observed at any time point between virological responders and non-responders. Conclusions: Normalization of the CD4 cell counts in children treated with HAART is independent of age, indicating that children of all age groups can meet their CD4 T cell production demands. In general, it appears that children restore their CD4 T cell counts better and more rapidly than adults, even in a late stage of HIV-1 infection.

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doi.org/10.1097/00002030-200111230-00008, hdl.handle.net/1765/68321
Department of Immunology

van Rossum, A., Scherpbier, H. J., van Lochem, E., Pakker, N., Slieker, W., Wolthers, K., … Rijkers, G. T. (2001). Therapeutic immune reconstitution in HIV-1-infected children is independent of their age and pretreatment immune status. AIDS, 15(17), 2267–2275. doi:10.1097/00002030-200111230-00008