Background: Tumor necrosis factor and its receptors (sTNFR1 and sTNFR2) have
been implicated in many infectious diseases. Identification of the key receptor (sTNFR1 or
sTNFR2) which drives the immunopathogenesis of HIV infection is crucial in developing
adjunctive therapy for HIV.
Objective: This study determined the expression levels of sTNFR1 and sTNFR2 in antiretroviral
therapy (ART) - experienced and naïve HIV patients.
Methods: A total of 40 HIV patients comprising 30 with ART and 10 without ART were enrolled
from the Pantang Hospital located in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana for data and blood collection.
Serum concentrations of sTNFR1 and sTNFR2 were determined by ELISA. Mann-
Whitney U test was used to examine differences in serum levels of sTNFR1 and sTNFR2 between
patients on ART and ART naïve patients. Wilcoxon Signed-Rank test was performed to determine
the difference between sTNFR1 and sTNFR2, and Kruskal Wallis test was conducted to compare
the effect of different antiretroviral drugs on the levels of sTNFR1 and sTNFR2. P< 0.05 was considered
Results: A Wilcoxon Signed-Ranks Test indicated serum levels of sTNFR2 was statistically significantly
higher than sTNFR1 (Z=-5.51; p<0.001). Levels of sTNFR1 and sTNFR2 did not differ
by ART status U =91.00 (Z = -1.84), p = 0.065 and U = 131.50 (Z = -0.58, p =0.560), respectively.
There were not significant differences in levels of TNFR2 H(2) = 1.86, p=0.395 and
sTNFR1 (H (2) = 4.37, p=0.113 across different ART combinations.
Conclusion: Compared to sTNFR1, the level of sTNFR2 is significantly increased during HIV
infection irrespective of ART status. The high sTNFR2 level is not associated with antiretroviral
drugs and may be another potential target for therapeutic development. This is the first study of
sTNFRs in African population.