Measles suppresses AIDS virus
Children who have recently proved to be HIV-positive and contract measles may, thanks to a stronger immune response, get temporary respite from this virus that ultimately causes AIDS.
Researchers from the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia,
studied 93 children infected with both measles and HIV. These children were found to have higher than normal levels of CD8 T- cells which are
a measure of immune response. The elevated levels in their blood of CD8 cells, also known as killer T- cells, coincided with suppressed
levels of the AIDS (HIV) virus. This subsequently returned to its original elevated level once the bout of measles was over.
The research team's findings proved contrary to expectations. HIV replication was expected to increase not decrease through the duration of the measles which is usually known to suppress the immune system. In fact Measles often results in complications with secondary infections and is a major cause of death in young children. The findings also indicate that measles triggers intense immune system activation which is what temporarily suppresses HIV.
Further research with a larger study group is required to fully understand how measles suppresses HIV and activates the immune system but these findings could provide clues to improving knowledge of both HIV pathogenesis and immunity.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases April 2002, Vol. 185(8)
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