Acute HIV-1 infection is often diagnosed as infectious mononucleosis and the symptoms resolve spontaneously after varying periods of time. After the infection of HIV-1 through the mucosa, the characteristic clinical symptoms and laboratory markers of acute HIV-1 infection appear in each patient through a complicated virus-host interaction. To understand the host responses, we measured two unique proinflammatory cytokines, galectin-9 (Gal-9) and osteopontin (OPN). A β -galactoside-binding mammalian lectin, Gal-9, reduces pro-inflammatory type-1 helper T (Th1) cells and Th17 cells and increases anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells. The plasma level of Gal-9 is known to be associated with HIV-1 viral load in chronic HIV-1 infection. On the contrary, osteopontin induces Th1/Th17 cells and promotes tissue inflammation. OPN is synthesized by variety of cells in the body, and dendritic cells are known to synthesize OPN in HIV-1 infected individuals. It was hypothesized that Gal-9 and/or OPN could be not only immune-modulators but also novel biomarkers of acute HIV-1 infection. We experienced 3 patients with acute HIV-1 and measured the levels of Gal-9 and OPN periodically before and after antiretroviral treatment. The results showed that the plasma levels of Gal-9 were extremely elevated [more than 2,300 pg/ml (normal range < 46 pg/ml)] in all three acute HIV-1 infected individuals and decreased rapidly after treatment. The changes in the OPN levels were less marked. In conclusion, the plasma levels of Gal-9 may be predictive of a severe inflammation status during the acute phase of HIV-1 infection and could be a potential biomarker during acute infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)