Study appearing in AIDS describes the coexpression of two genes variants already linked to slower disease progression.

Simultaneous expression of certain versions of KIR3DL1 and HLA-B*57 genes, which has been associated with a reduced risk of HIV progressing to AIDS, also lowers the risk of HIV infection in exposed uninfected individuals, according to a group of researchers.

The strongest protection from disease progression in KIR3DL1 homozygotes (3DL1 hmz) is the coexpression of HLA-B*57 and a set of KIR3DL1 genotypes (3DL1*h/*y) lacking alleles expressed at low levels on natural killer cells. The scientists decided to evaluate whether this allele combination could also influence resistance to infection. The genetic distribution of 3DL1*h/*y and HLA-B*57 was compared in 41 HIV-exposed uninfected and 186 recently HIV-infected KIR3DL1 homozygotes.

The researchers found that 12.2% HIV-exposed uninfected people and 4.3% of individuals in the primary infection cohort expressed HLA-B*57. The percentage of 3DL1*h/*y carriers were similar in both populations. The 3DL1*h/*y-HLAB*57 combined genotype was more frequent in exposed uninfected individuals (12.2%) than individuals with primary infection (2.7%).

The investigators thus concluded that the coexpression of 3DL1*h/*y and HLA-B*57 contributes to a lower risk of developing HIV when exposed to the virus.

The study was conducted by scientists at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and University of Montreal Hospital Centre, Montreal. It is published in the July 16 issue of journal AIDS.


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