Impairment of neutrophil chemotactic and bactericidal function in children infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and partial reversal after in vitro exposure to granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor
Because polymorphonuclear neutrophils are the most important component of host defense against bacteria, we assessed their function in 13 children with asymptomatic and 12 with symptomatic infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), and compared their values with healthy adult control values. The functions assessed were (1) chemotaxis, (2) bacterial phagocytosis, (3) superoxide generation, and (4) bactericidal activity. Chemotaxis of polymorphonuclear neutrophils toward the chemoattractant N-formylmethionyl leucyl phenylalanine (FMLP) was significantly decreased in symptom-free infected children compared with control subjects (p less than 0.0001), but was increased in children with symptomatic infection (p less than 0.025). Bactericidal activity of the neutrophils against Staphylococcus aureus was defective in 8 of 12 children with asymptomatic infection (p = 0.016), and in 8 of 9 children with symptomatic infection (p less than 0.00001). Superoxide generation by polymorphonuclear neutrophils on stimulation with FMLP and phagocytosis of S. aureus were normal. Serum from patients with symptomatic HIV-1 infection was not as efficient in low concentrations as normal serum in the ability to opsonize S. aureus. The in vitro bactericidal defect was partially corrected by granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). The results suggest that both cellular (neutrophils) and humoral defects contribute to the increased incidence of bacterial infections in HIV-1-infected children, and that GM-CSF may improve the defective bactericidal activity of polymorphonuclear neutrophils in these patients.