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n Medical Technology SA - Natural killer cells at the foetal-maternal interface of HIV-1 infected pregnant women
Objectives : Several lines of evidence suggest that Natural Killer (NK) cells have an important role in antiviral defence. Thus, the impairment of NK cell function in the course of HIV infection contributes to a decreased resistance against HIV. Therefore, the interaction between the presence of NK cells and p24 at the placental interface of HIV-1 infected mothers was investigated.
Methods : Evidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication was sought in fifty five human placentas obtained from pregnancies complicated by maternal HIV-1 infection. The placentas were examined for p24 antibodies and NK cells (CD56+) using immunohistochemical staining techniques. Viral RNA and CD4+ cell counts were measured in plasma samples obtained from all mothers and babies immediately after delivery.
Results : Presence of p24 antigens was found in 94.6% of placental samples. Natural Killer cell activity was observed in 98.3% of samples. There was no statistically significant correlation between number of NK cells and vertical transmission (p = 0.145). However, the risk for vertical transmission was increased 3.4 times more if NK cell values were low [OR = 3.424 (95% CI 0.65-17.89)].
Conclusion : The presence of p24 in placental tissue was not influenced by maternal viral load. Low NK cell values increased the risk for vertical transmission.
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