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Nicoli, Francesco; Chachage, Mkunde; Clowes, Petra; Bauer, Asli; Kowour, Dickens; Ensoli, Barbara; Cafaro, Aurelio; Maboko, Leonard; Hoelscher, Michael; Gavioli, Riccardo; Saathoff, Elmar; Geldmacher, Christof (2016): Association between different anti-Tat antibody isotypes and HIV disease progression: data from an African cohort. In: BMC infectious Diseases 16:344


Background: The presence of IgG and IgM against Tat, an HIV protein important for viral replication and immune dysfunction, is associated with slow disease progression in clade B HIV-infected individuals. However, although Tat activities strictly depend on the viral clade, our knowledge about the importance of anti-Tat antibodies in non-clade B HIV infection is poor. The objective of this study was to investigate the association of different anti-Tat antibody isotypes with disease progression in non-clade B HIV-infected subjects and to study the relationship between anti-Tat humoral responses and immunological abnormalities. Methods: Anti-clade B and - clade C Tat IgG, IgM and IgA titers were assessed in serum samples from 96 cART-naive subjects with chronic HIV infection from Mbeya, Tanzania, and associated with CD4(+) T cell count, plasma viremia and CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell phenotypes. Results: Anti-Tat IgM were preferentially detected in chronic HIV-infected subjects with low T cell activation (p-value = 0.03) and correlated with higher CD4(+) T cell counts and lower viral loads irrespective of the duration of infection (p-value = 0.019 and p-value = 0.037 respectively). Conversely, anti-Tat IgA were preferentially detected in individuals with low CD4(+) T cell counts and high viral load (p-value = 0.02 and p-value < 0.001 respectively). The simultaneous presence of anti-Tat IgG and IgM protected from fast CD4(+) T cell decline (p-value < 0.01) and accumulation of CD38(+) HLADR(+) CD8(+) T cells (p-value = 0.029). Conclusions: Anti-Tat IgG alone are not protective in non-clade B infected subjects, unless concomitant with IgM, suggesting a protective role of persistent anti-Tat IgM irrespective of the infecting clade.