Journal Article

HIV Coinfection Enhances Complement Activation During Sepsis

Michaëla A. M. Huson, Diana Wouters, Gerard van Mierlo, Martin P. Grobusch, Sacha S. Zeerleder and Tom van der Poll

in The Journal of Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 212, issue 3, pages 474-483
Published in print August 2015 | ISSN: 0022-1899
Published online February 2015 | e-ISSN: 1537-6613 | DOI:
HIV Coinfection Enhances Complement Activation During Sepsis

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Background. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–induced complement activation may play a role in chronic immune activation in patients with HIV infection and influence the complement system during acute illness. We determined the impact of HIV infection on the complement system in patients with asymptomatic HIV infection and HIV-infected patients with sepsis or malaria.

Methods. We performed a prospective observational study of 268 subjects with or without HIV infection who were asymptomatic, were septic, or had malaria. We measured complement activation products (C3bc and C4bc) and native complement proteins (C3 and C4). levels of mannose-binding lectin and C1q-C4 were measured to examine activation of the lectin and classical pathways, respectively.

Results. Asymptomatic HIV infection was associated with increased C4 activation, especially in patients with high HIV loads, and was accompanied by elevated C1q-C4 levels. Similarly, sepsis and malaria resulted in increased C4 activation and elevated C1q-C4 concentrations. HIV coinfection enhanced C4 activation and consumption in patients with sepsis; this effect was not detected in patients with malaria. Mannose-binding lectin deficiency (defined as a mannose-binding lectin level of <500 ng/mL) did not influence complement activation in any group.

Conclusions. HIV activates the complement system, predominantly via the classical pathway, and causes increased C4 activation and consumption during sepsis. HIV-induced complement activation may contribute to tissue injury during chronic infection and acute intercurrent bacterial infections.

Keywords: complement system proteins; HIV; sepsis; malaria; mannose-binding lectin

Journal Article.  5320 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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