Serum cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) values and CD4 cell count were evaluated in 25 perinatally HIV-1-infected children. The children were divided into three groups: group 1 included eight asymptomatic or paucisymptomatic children, group 2 nine moderately symptomatic children, and group 3 eight children with severe clinical manifestations. Group 1 children were without antiretroviral therapy; the remaining children received zidovudine (AZT) treatment. Only one group 3 patient had primary adrenal insufficiency. No significant differences in cortisol and ACTH secretion were found either between all HIV-1-infected and 126 age- and sex-matched normal children or among the three groups of patients. Mean CD4 cell count of each group declined in parallel to disease progression. No correlations were found between cortisol or ACTH values and CD4 cell count. Adrenal failure may be a late complication of HIV-1 infection and should be searched for in severely ill patients. Our data argue against the hypothesis of a cortisol-induced shift from T-helper-1 (Th1) to Th2 cytokine production profile as the pathogenetic mechanism of progression to AIDS.
ACTH and cortisol secretions in children with perinatal HIV-1 infection. / LALA R; PALOMBA E; MATARAZZO P; ALTARE F; TOVO PA. - In: PEDIATRIC AIDS AND HIV INFECTION. - ISSN 1045-5418. - 7(4)(1996), pp. 243-245.