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Inhibition of p38 MAPK in combination with ART reduces SIV-induced immune activation and provides additional protection from immune system deterioration.
Chaudhary, Omkar
Narayan, Vivek
Lelis, Felipe
Linz, Brandon
Watkins, Meagan
Veazey, Ronald
Aldovini, Anna
PLoS pathogens 2018 Aug;14: e1007268

Differences in immune activation were identified as the most significant difference between AIDS-susceptible and resistant species. p38 MAPK, activated in HIV infection, is key to induction of interferon-stimulated genes and cytokine-mediated inflammation and is associated with some of the pathology produced by HIV or SIV infection in AIDS-susceptible primates. As small molecule p38 MAPK inhibitors are being tested in human trials for inflammatory diseases, we evaluated the effects of treating SIV-infected macaques with the p38 MAPK inhibitor PH-797804 in conjunction with ART. PH-797804 had no side effects, did not impact negatively the antiviral immune response and, used alone, had no significant effect on levels of immune activation and did not reduced the viremia. When administered with ART, it significantly reduced numerous immune activation markers compared to ART alone. CD38+/HLA-DR+ and Ki-67+ T-cell percentages in blood, lymph node and rectal CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, PD-1 expression in CD8+ T cells and plasma levels of IFNα, IFNγ, TNFα, IL-6, IP-10, sCD163 and C-reactive protein were all significantly reduced. Significant preservation of CD4+, CD4+ central memory, CD4+/IL-22+ and CD4+/IL-17+ T-cell percentages and improvement of Th17/Treg ratio in blood and rectal mucosa were also observed. Importantly, the addition of PH-797804 to ART initiated during chronic SIV infection reduced immune activation and restored immune system parameters to the levels observed when ART was initiated on week 1 after infection. After ART interruption, viremia rebounded in a similar fashion in all groups, regardless of when ART was initiated. We concluded that the inhibitor PH-797804 significantly reduced, even if did not normalized, the immune activation parameters evaluated during ART treatment, improved preservation of critical populations of the immune system targeted by SIV, and increased the efficacy of ART treatment initiated in chronic infection to levels similar to those observed when initiated in acute infection but did not affect positively or negatively viral reservoirs.

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