COVID-19 in people living with HIV: Clinical implications of dynamics of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2

Annalisa Mondi, Eleonora Cimini, Francesca Colavita, Stefania Cicalini, Carmela Pinnetti, Giulia Matusali, Rita Casetti, Markus Maeurer, Alessandra Vergori, Valentina Mazzotta, Roberta Gagliardini, Federico De Zottis, Vincenzo Schininà, Enrico Girardi, Vincenzo Puro, Giuseppe Ippolito, Francesco Vaia, Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, Concetta Castilletti, Chiara AgratiAndrea Antinori

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3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Little evidence on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in people living with HIV (PLWH) is currently available. We reported clinical and viroimmunological data of all HIV-positive patients admitted to our center with COVID-19 from March 1 to May 12, 2020. Overall, five patients were included: all were virologically-suppressed on antiretroviral therapy and CD4+ count was greater than 350 cell/mm in all but two patients. Although all patients had evidence of pneumonia on admission, only one developed respiratory failure. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA was never detected from nasopharyngeal swabs in two patients, whereas in the others, viral clearance occurred within a maximum of 43 days. Immunoglobulin G production was elicited in all patients and neutralizing antibodies in all but one patient. Specific-T-cell response developed in all patients but was stronger in those with the more severe presentations. Similarly, the highest level of proinflammatory cytokines was found in the only patient experiencing respiratory failure. Despite a mild presentation, patients with more pronounced immunosuppression showed high degrees of both cytokines production and immune activation. Our study did not find an increased risk and severity of COVID-19 in PLWH. Adaptative cellular immune response to SARS-CoV-2 appeared to correlate to disease severity. The mild clinical picture showed in advanced HIV patients, despite a significant T-cell activation and inflammatory profile, suggests a potential role of HIV-driven immunological dysregulation in avoiding immune-pathogenetic processes. However, other possible explanations, as a protective role of certain antiretroviral drugs, should be considered. Further larger studies are needed to better clarify the impact of HIV infection on COVID-19. 3
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Volume93
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021

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