HLA class I-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) exert strong selective pressures on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), leading to escape mutations compromising virologic control. Immune responses continue to shape HIV-1 evolution after HAART initiation, but the extent and rate at which this occurs remain incompletely quantified. Here, we characterize the incidence and clinical correlates of HLA-associated evolution in HIV-1 Pol after HAART initiation in a large, population-based observational cohort.
British Columbia HAART Observational, Medical Evaluation and Research cohort participants with available HLA class I types and longitudinal posttherapy protease/reverse transcriptase sequences were studied (n = 619; median, 5 samples per patient and 5.2 years of follow-up). HLA-associated polymorphisms were defined according to published reference lists. Rates and correlates of immune-mediated HIV-1 evolution were investigated using multivariate Cox proportional hazard models incorporating baseline and time-dependent plasma viral load and CD4 response data.
New HLA-associated escape events were observed in 269 (43%) patients during HAART and occurred at 49 of 63 (78%) investigated immune-associated sites in Pol. In time-dependent analyses adjusting for baseline factors, poorer virologic, but not immunologic, response to HAART was associated with increased risk of immune escape of 1.9-fold per log(10) viral load increment (P