SPECT imaging may help guide future HIV treatment

Researchers used single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to assess the immune system recovery of macaque monkeys with an HIV-like infection. The work may help understand recovery in humans after HIV treatment. 

The scientists used SPECT, combined with a CD4-specific imaging probe to evaluate the CD4+ T-cell level—the main cell type destroyed by HIV—in the blood of seven monkeys. Researchers looked for how the infection affected various tissues, such as lymph nodes, spleen and gut, according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) release.

In the months after antiretroviral therapy (ART) was administered imaging revealed variations in the reconstitution of cells pool and among groups of lymph nodes within the same animal.

According to the statement, the reconstitution of cell pools in the lymph nodes of those receiving long-term ART were “suboptimal,” but remained smaller than the pools in the healthy controls. T-cell pools in the spleen were similar between the two groups

The authors believe the imaging technique could potentially help scientists analyze immune reconstruction in humans following both traditional and experimental HIV treatment.