HIV infection compounds the lymphopenia associated with cerebral malaria in Malawian children.
Mandala WL., Gondwe EN., Nyirenda TS., Drayson M., Molyneux ME., MacLennan CA.
AimCerebral malaria (CM), unlike severe malarial anemia (SMA), has previously been characterized by pan-lymphopenia that normalizes in convalescence, while HIV infection is associated with depletion of CD4+ T cells. In this study, we investigate whether HIV infection in Malawian children exacerbates the pan-lymphopenia associated with CM.MethodsWe investigated the absolute and percentage lymphocyte-subset counts and their activation and memory status in Malawian children presenting with either CM who were HIV-uninfected (n=29), HIV-infected (n=9), or SMA who were HIV-uninfected (n=30) and HIV-infected (n=5) in comparison with HIV-uninfected children without malaria (n=42) and HIV-infected children without malaria (n=4).ResultsHIV-infected CM cases had significantly lower absolute counts of T cells (P=0.006), CD4+ T cells (P=0.0008), and B cells (P=0.0014) than HIV-uninfected CM cases, and significantly lower percentages of CD4+ T cells than HIV-uninfected CM cases (P=0.005). HIV-infected SMA cases had significantly lower percentages of CD4+ T cells (P=0.001) and higher CD8+ T cells (P=0.003) in comparison with HIV-uninfected SMA cases. HIV-infected SMA cases had higher proportions of activated T cells (P=0.003) expressing CD69 than HIV-uninfected SMA cases.ConclusionHIV infection compounds the perturbation of acute CM and SMA on lymphocytes, exacerbating subset-specific lymphopenia in CM and increasing activation status in SMA, potentially exacerbating host immunocompromise.