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Central Nervous System HIV Triggers Early B-Cell Response

Plasmablasts may serve as the main virus-related B-cell subset in cerebrospinal fluid

FRIDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- HIV infection of the central nervous system triggers a strong B-cell response, with the viral load correlating with the level of plasmablasts found in the cerebrospinal fluid, according to a study published online Aug. 15 in the Annals of Neurology.

Bernhard Hemmer, M.D., of Heinrich Heine-University in Dusseldorf, Germany, and colleagues used flow cytometry to analyze the distribution of T cells, B cells, short-lived plasmablasts and long-lived plasma cells in the cerebrospinal fluid and peripheral blood of 33 HIV patients and 12 controls with non-infectious central nervous system diseases.

The researchers found that the HIV patients had significantly higher plasmablast and B-cell levels than controls. They also found that cerebrospinal fluid plasmablasts were most prevalent during the early stage of infection while B-cell levels were consistent during the early and late stages of infection.

"Plasmablasts in the cerebrospinal fluid correlated with intrathecal IgG synthesis and even stronger with HIV RNA copy numbers in cerebrospinal fluid, in particular, in untreated, early HIV-infected individuals," the authors write. "Initiation of antiviral treatment in therapy-naive patients strongly decreased HIV copy numbers and plasmablasts in cerebrospinal fluid."

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