The reconstitution of the thymus in immunosuppressed individuals restores CD4-specific cellular and humoral immune responses

Montserrat Plana, Felipe Garcia, Laila Darwich, Joan Romeu, Anna López, Cecilia Cabrera, Marta Massanella, Esther Canto, Raul Ruiz-Hernandez, Julià Blanco, Marcelo Sánchez, Josep M. Gatell, Bonaventura Clotet, Lidia Ruiz, Margarita Bofill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Infection with HIV-1 frequently results in the loss of specific cellular immune responses and an associated lack of antibodies. Recombinant growth hormone (rGH) administration reconstitutes thymic tissue and boosts the levels of peripheral T cells, so rGH therapy may be an effective adjuvant through promoting the recovery of lost cellular and T-cell-dependent humoral immune responses in immunosuppressed individuals. To test this concept, we administered rGH to a clinically defined group of HIV-1-infected subjects with defective cellular and serological immune responses to at least one of three commonly employed vaccines (hepatitis A, hepatitis B or tetanus toxoid). Of the original 278 HIV-1-infected patients entering the trial, only 20 conformed to these immunological criteria and were randomized into three groups: Group A (n=8) receiving rGH and challenged with the same vaccine to which they were unresponsive and Groups B (n=5) and C (n=7) who received either rGH or vaccination alone, respectively. Of the eight subjects in Group A, five recovered CD4 cellular responses to vaccine antigen and four of these produced the corresponding antibodies. In the controls, three of the five in group B recovered cellular responses with two producing antibodies, whereas three of the seven in Group C recovered CD4 responses, with only two producing antibodies. Significantly, whereas seven of ten patients receiving rGH treatment in Group A (six patients) and B (one patient) recovered T-cell responses to HIVp24, only two of six in Group C responded similarly. In conclusion, reconstitution of the thymus in immunosuppressed adults through rGH hormone treatment restored both specific antibody and CD4 T-cell responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-328
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adjuvant
  • Cellular responses
  • Growth hormone
  • HIV
  • Humoral responses
  • Thymus


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