Some HIV-infected people may not suffer from AIDS for many years due to enhanced cholesterol metabolism in certain immune cells, even in the absence of HIV therapy, which is an inherited trait, shows new research.
The findings may lead to potential development of new approaches to control HIV infection by regulating cellular cholesterol metabolism.
"We have known for two decades that some people do not have the dramatic loss in their T cells and progression to AIDS that you would expect without drug therapy," said lead author Giovanna Rappocciolo, assistant professor at University of Pittsburgh in the US.
T-cells are a type of white blood cells that play a very important role in human immunity by scanning for cellular infections.
"Instead, the disease progresses more slowly and we believe altered cholesterol metabolism in certain immune cells may be a reason," Rappocciolo said.
These people are known as "nonprogressors." This discovery was made possible by using 30 years of data and biologic specimens.
Rappocciolo and her colleagues searched for patterns in gene expression, or the degree to which specific genes are turned on or off.
"These results improve understanding of how nonprogressors control HIV without drug therapy and potentially may contribute to new approaches to manage HIV infection," Rappocciolo added.
The findings were presented at the eighth International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Vancouver, Canada.