Cellular Immunity, immune activation and regulation in HIV-1 infected mother-child pairs: What are the determinants of protective immunity

Eshia Moodley, Thumbi Ndung'u


A.     Mother to child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a global health problem that is the main source of paediatric HIV-1 acquisition particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa, the revised ART guidelines propose that all HIV-1 infected children aged less a year be put on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in order to improve clinical outcomes as was recently demonstrated in the CHER study [1].   However prevention and possible eradication of pediatric HIV-1 infection lies in the development of an infant vaccine that can be administered at birth that would be would theoretically provide protection from infancy, through the adolescence period, and onto adulthood. The proposed study will provide valuable information that would aid and advance the development of such a vaccine in a clinical setting.


The broad scientific goal of the proposed study is to gain a better understanding of the immune responses and their functionality that may contribute to successful control of HIV infection. Components of host immunogenetic factors, viral and cellular immunity entities that influence exposure or infection outcome will be addressed in order to gain better understanding of how effective vaccines might be designed. Thus the study aims to investigate functional status of CTL responses, viral diversity and adaptation in the face of immune pressure, and host genetic diversity in the IL-10 gene and its influence on MTCT and immune responses within a mother-child transmission setting.