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HIV treatment helps prevent active TB

Antiretroviral treatment (ART) reduces the risk of developing active tuberculosis (TB) in people also infected with HIV-1, by dampening the activation of the body’s immune response.

TB remains the leading bacterial cause of death worldwide and co-infection with HIV is the biggest risk factor for developing an active infection.

But it’s been observed that people taking ART are less likely to have a latent TB infection become active and potentially life-threatening.

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute and the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research at the University of Cape Town have been researching links between the two conditions for a number of years. Their latest study is a broad analysis of blood from individuals with both latent TB infection and HIV-1, during their first six months of ART.

They observed a significant drop in the inflammatory signalling activity of immune cells, confirmed by further analysis of plasma samples taken after six months of ART. They then focused on 30 patients and carried out highly detailed multiplex analysis of their blood plasma to better understand the change in inflammatory markers. The team found a consistent decrease in IL-1alpha and IL-1beta concentrations over time.

Collectively, their results show that the decreased risk of active TB can be explained by reduced inflammatory immune responses during treatment with ART.

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Image Credit | Shutterstock

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