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OBJECTIVE: This study investigated the association of plasma microRNAs before and during antiretroviral therapy (ART) with poor CD4 + T-cell recovery during the first year of ART. DESIGN: MicroRNAs were retrospectively measured in stored plasma samples from people with HIV (PWH) in sub-Saharan Africa who were enrolled in a longitudinal multicountry cohort and who had plasma viral-load less than 50 copies/ml after 12 months of ART. METHODS: First, the levels of 179 microRNAs were screened in a subset of participants from the lowest and highest tertiles of CD4 + T-cell recovery (ΔCD4) ( N  = 12 each). Next, 11 discordant microRNAs, were validated in 113 participants (lowest tertile ΔCD4: n  = 61, highest tertile ΔCD4: n  = 52). For discordant microRNAs in the validation, a pathway analysis was conducted. Lastly, we compared microRNA levels of PWH to HIV-negative controls. RESULTS: Poor CD4 + T-cell recovery was associated with higher levels of hsa-miR-199a-3p and hsa-miR-200c-3p before ART, and of hsa-miR-17-5p and hsa-miR-501-3p during ART. Signaling by VEGF and MET, and RNA polymerase II transcription pathways were identified as possible targets of hsa-miR-199a-3p, hsa-200c-3p, and hsa-miR-17-5p. Compared with HIV-negative controls, we observed lower hsa-miR-326, hsa-miR-497-5p, and hsa-miR-501-3p levels before and during ART in all PWH, and higher hsa-miR-199a-3p and hsa-miR-200c-3p levels before ART in all PWH, and during ART in PWH with poor CD4 + T-cell recovery only. CONCLUSION: These findings add to the understanding of pathways involved in persistent HIV-induced immune dysregulation during suppressive ART.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





791 - 801


Humans, HIV-1, Retrospective Studies, HIV Infections, MicroRNAs, T-Lymphocytes