Biomarkers watching HIV progression

Disease progression in HIV/AIDS is often linked with chronic immune activation (long-term increased levels of activation markers on immune cells), but physicians and researchers aren't always sure why it happens. Researchers have found a panel of biomarkers that could help untangle the puzzle, and identify patients at risk of progression.

HIV-positive patients who are managed on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) with undetectable levels of virus in the bloodstream and CD4 cells at levels around normal can still show signs of immune activation.

In a study published in PLoS, researchers found a panel of blood-based markers of inflammation that could separate HIV-positive people with detectable or undetectable levels of the virus (viremic or aviremic) from HIV-negative people. The signature could also pick out those patients showing levels of immune activation.

Researchers noted that this study looked at only a small group of people (264), and just included those whose disease was advanced, and accept that further studies are needed to see how useful the panel could be. However, a panel of biomarkers like these could be helpful to physicians and in clinical trials, to see how patients are responding to treatment as well as which patients are likely to progress.

- see the paper

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