Background: Cytokines have been widely demonstrated to involve in the pathogenesis
of AIDS and the mechanisms of antiretroviral therapy. Interleukin 27 (IL-27) is a new member of
the IL-12 cytokine family and has been shown to interfere HIV-1 virus replication with
controversial findings. This study is to investigate the dynamic changes in plasma IL-27 level and
cell surface IL-27 receptor expression in HIV/AIDS patients who underwent HAART.
Methods: Whole blood was collected from 34 HIV-positive/AIDS patients 0, 6, and 12 months after
initiation of HAART and 27 healthy subjects. Plasma IL-27, IFN-γ, and IL-4 were measured by
enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, while peripheral blood CD3+
T cells count and the
gp130 expressed CD3+
cell were measured by flow cytometry.
Results: The plasma IL-27 concentration, IFN-γ concentration, and percentage of positive gp130
CD4 cells were significantly decreased in previously treatment-naive HIV/AIDS patients compared
to healthy controls, but gradually increased 6 and 12 months after initiation of HAART. Conversely,
IL-4 levels were significantly increased in treatment-naive HIV/AIDS patients compared to
healthy controls, but gradually decreased 6 and 12 months after HAART. The concentrations of
plasma IL-27 were positively correlated with the percentage of gp130 positive CD4 cells (r=0.438,
p=0.016). Both plasma IL-27 concentration and gp130 positive cell percentage were positively associated
with peripheral blood CD3+
T cell count (P<0.05 or P<0.01), but negatively associated
with plasma HIV viral load (P<0.05 or P<0.01).
Conclusion: IL-27 signaling (IL-27 and its receptor) may be involved in the pathogenesis of HIV
infection and immune reconstitution in HIV/AIDS patients who underwent HAART. IL-27 may exert
effects through regulating Th1 / Th2 ratio.