In order to evaluate the immunogenicity and the effect of a virosomal influenza vaccine on viral replication and T-cell activation in HIV-infected children receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), 29 children infected with HIV-1 vertically (19 primed with a previous influenza vaccination and 10 who were not been immunized against influenza) were immunized with an intramuscular virosome-adjuvanted influenza vaccine. According to the European Agency for Evaluation of Medical Products (EMEA) criteria, the immunogenicity of the vaccine was adequate against all three influenza strains (A H1N1, A H3N2, and B) in the primed children, and against A H1N1 and A H3N2 in the unprimed children. After in vitro stimulation with vaccine antigens,the IFN-gamma levels in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells cultures increased significantly from a baseline level of 103.0 +/- 229.8 pg/ml to a 30-day level of 390.7 +/- 606.3 pg/ml (P<0.05), with concentrations significantly higher (P<0.05) in the primed children than in the unprimed children. No increase in plasma HIV-1 RNA or HIV-1 proviral DNA was observed in either subgroup, and the immunophenotype analyses demonstrated that the CD4(+) cell counts and percentages, the CD4/CD8 ratio and activated lymphocytes remained stable in either group from baseline to 1 month after each vaccine dose. This study showed that the virosomal influenza vaccine does seem to be immunogenic in the majority of HIV-infected children receiving HAART and does not induce viral replication or T-cell activation. Given the possible influenza-related complications in children infected with HIV, these results support the use of this influenza vaccine in such patients.
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