BACKGROUND : A general non-specific marker of disease activity that could alert the clinician and prompt further investigation
would be of value in patients with HIV/AIDS, especially in resource limited environments.
OBJECTIVE : To investigate the potential of neopterin as non-specific biomarker in patients with advanced HIV/AIDS.
METHODS : Cross-sectional study in 105 HIV positive patients (75 on highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART). Neopterin
was assessed by enzyme linked immune-absorbent assay and cytokines by flow cytometry.
RESULTS : Neopterin levels were significantly higher (p<0.001) for the total patient than for the control group. Significant
correlations between neopterin and plasma indicators of inflammation showed neopterin to be a good indicator of active
inflammatory status and of the effect of HAART on the immune system. Neopterin was superior to C-reactive protein and
to individual cytokines as indicator of immune deficiency. Increased neopterin levels were associated with a decline in albumin,
haemoglobin and the albumin/globulin ratio, and with increases in red cell distribution width.
CONCLUSIONS : Plasma neopterin is a good non-specific biomarker of disease activity in HIV/AIDS patients. It is a good
indicator of inflammatory activity, perpetuation of inflammation-associated co-morbidities, degree of immune deficiency
and has predictive value for underlying disease, and for monitoring the HAART response.