Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection during pregnancy induces CD4 T-cell differentiation and modulates responses to Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in HIV-uninfected infants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Louis Gadama
  • Anita Gumbi
  • Flora Nyalo
  • Bonus Makanani
  • Robert S Heyderman

Colleges, School and Institutes


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-negative infants born to HIV-positive mothers frequently exhibit a range of immunological abnormalities. We tested the hypothesis that HIV during pregnancy affects the ability of CD4 T cells of HIV-negative infants to respond to vaccine challenge by recruiting HIV-negative infants born to HIV-negative and HIV-positive mothers and measuring their responses to Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine given at birth. At 2 weeks, maternal HIV status did not influence CD4 T-cell counts or differentiation, but by 10 weeks CD4 counts of infants born to HIV-positive mothers fell to a level characteristic of HIV-positive infants. Among the CD4 T-cell populations, markers of differentiation (CCR7(-) CD45RA(-) CD27(-)) and senescence (CD57, PD-1) were more common among infants born to HIV-positive mothers than among infants born to HIV-negative mothers. At 2 weeks of age, we assessed the effector response to heat-killed BCG and tuberculin purified protein derivative (PPD) by overnight interferon (IFN)-gamma enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot-forming cell assay (ELISpot), but found no measurable effect of maternal HIV status. At 10 weeks, we assessed CD4 T-cell memory by measuring proliferation in response to the same antigens. We observed a bimodal response that allowed infants to be classified as high or low responders and found that fewer infants born to HIV-positive mothers were able to mount a robust proliferative response, suggesting that their reduced CD4 counts and increased differentiation indicated a deficiency in their ability to develop immunological memory.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-54
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Sustainable Development Goals