Human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection causes loss and anergy of CD4 and CD8 T cells, leading to opportunistic infections, including tuberculosis (TB). QuantiFERON®-TB (QFT) is used as a diagnostic tool to detect TB, but it exhibits limited accuracy among subjects with low CD4 T cell numbers, including HIV-1-infected individuals. The present study aimed to determine the effect of HIV-1 infection and patients’ blood T cell numbers on cytokine production in response to mitogen (Mit) stimulation.
The number of CD4 and CD8 T cells in HIV-1-infected individuals was quantified. Levels of various cytokines in Mit-stimulated and un-stimulated (Nil) supernatants of QFT gold “in tube” were assessed using a MAGPIX System. The correlation between cytokine levels and CD4/CD8 T cell counts in response to Mit was analyzed. The cytokine levels were compared between HIV-1-infected and healthy subjects.
HIV-1-infected individuals (110) and control subjects (27) were enrolled. Interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA), IL-6, IL-8, and regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES) values in Mit-Nil tubes showed a significant correlation with CD4 T cell counts, while IFN-γ, IL-6, and IFN-γ-induced protein 10 (IP-10) values in Mit-Nil tubes had significant correlation with CD8 T cell counts. IL-1RA, IL-8, IP-10, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB, and RANTES levels in Nil tubes were significantly higher in the HIV-1-infected group. IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-5, IL-6, IP-10, and macrophage inflammatory protein-1β values in Mit-Nil tubes were significantly higher, and PDGF-BB and RANTES levels were significantly lower in the HIV-1-infected group.
The functions of HIV-1-infected T cells and uninfected T cells, such as spontaneous and responsive cytokine production in response to Mit, were different. Our findings may be useful for developing new clinical tools for patients with low T cell counts. Additionally, the study provides new insights into the pathogenesis of HIV-1 infection.

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