The magnitude and kinetics of the mucosal HIV-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte response and virus RNA load in breast milk
Mahlokozera T., Kang HH., Goonetilleke N., Stacey AR., Lovingood RV., Denny TN., Kalilani L., Bunn JEG., Meshnick SR., Borrow P., Letvin NL., Permar SR.
Background: The risk of postnatal HIV transmission is associated with the magnitude of the milk virus load. While HIV-specific cellular immune responses control systemic virus load and are detectable in milk, the contribution of these responses to the control of virus load in milk is unknown. Methods: We assessed the magnitude of the immunodominant GagRY11 and subdominant EnvKY9-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte response in blood and milk of 10 A*3002+, HIV-infected Malawian women throughout the period of lactation and correlated this response to milk virus RNA load and markers of breast inflammation. Results: The magnitude and kinetics of the HIV-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte responses were discordant in blood and milk of the right and left breast, indicating independent regulation of these responses in each breast. However, there was no correlation between the magnitude of the HIV-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte response and the milk virus RNA load. Further, there was no correlation between the magnitude of this response and markers of breast inflammation. Conclusions: The magnitude of the HIV-specific CD8+ T lymphocyte response in milk does not appear to be solely determined by the milk virus RNA load and is likely only one of the factors contributing to maintenance of low virus load in milk. © 2011 Mahlokozera et al.