Tat is a viral protein secreted from HIV infected cells and extra cellular Tat is suspected to prevent destruction of HIV infected cells from cells of the cellular immunity. The effect of anti retroviral therapy (ART) on Tat secretion has never been investigated. In this study, we tested for antibody reactivity against Tat variants representative of the main HIV subtypes in HIV positive patients receiving ART with undetectable viral loads ( < 40 copies/mL) over the course of one year with a blood sampling every three months. For each of theses five blood sampling, an average of 50 % of patients had Anti-Tat IgG, it turned out that 86% of patients could recognize Tat at least in one blood sampling during the course of the study. Amazingly, anti-Tat IgG appeared and/or disappeared in 66 % of patients. Only 20% had anti-Tat IgG remaining persistently while 14% were consistently without anti Tat IgG in the five blood sampling. No significant correlation was found between anti-Tat IgG and CD4+ T cell, CD8+ T cell and B cell counts revealing the incapacity of these anti Tat IgG to neutralize extra cellular Tat. Interestingly the absence and then the appearance of anti-Tat IgG in patients suggest the presence of HIV infected cells in the blood that may constitute a significant reservoir of HIV infected cells. As a conclusion antiretroviral therapy does not block the secretion of Tat and may explain why HIV infected cells can survive in spite of an effective ART treatment.
Keywords: Antibody, antiretroviral therapy, b cell, HIV, Tat, vaccine, cellular immunity, HIV infected cells, anti Tat IgG, patients
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