The objectives of the CA on the pathophysiology and immunology of HIV-related diseases were to facilitate interactions between European investigators working in different fields, so as to collaboratively investigate the following points:
1 Pathobiology of HIV infection: analysis of the relationship between structure, function and antigenicity of HIV proteins; mechanisms of cell tropism and role of the macrophage reservoir; mechanisms of immune deficiency.
2 Immunohistological aspects of lesions induced by HIV, aiming at delineating the patho-physiological mechanisms of lesions with three major goals: antigen-presenting and accessory cells in HIV infection; HIV-related lymphomas and role of EBV; pathogenesis of Kaposi's sarcoma.
3 Exploration of immune dysfunctions and immune responses induced by HIV and their relationship with virus cytophatology.
The aim of the Concerted Action (CA) is to bring together scientists of different backgrounds working in the area of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) research to facilitate collaboration at the European level, to avoid pointless duplication of research projects and to allow the scientists involved to orient their research in a global perspective. The objectives of the CA associated 18 European research groups are:
to analyse the pathobiology of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection at the cellular and tissular level, in its functional as compared with its morphological aspects;
to investigate the immune dysfunctions and to study immune responses elicited by HIV in a pathophysiological perspective as well as in view of prognosis assessment.
The main results obtained so far have been:
to characterize the relationships between structure and function of HIV envelope glycoproteins and the mechanisms of HIV cellular tropism, and to analyze the role of the macrophage reservoir in the pathobiology of HIV infection;
to further explore the immunohistological aspects of HIV induced lesions in lymphoid organs, using in particular the simian immunodefiency virus (SIV) macaque model, which allowed to delineate the pathophysiological mechanisms regarding especially the role of antigen presenting and accessory cells and the role of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in HIV related lymphomas, and to characterize the cells involved in Kaposi's sarcoma;
to propose application of the advances in the understanding of immune dysfunctions of the practical issues of immunodiagnosis and follow up of HIV infection, and to analyze the role of cytotoxic T lymphocytes in HIV immunopathogenesis;
to evaluate B cell epitopes as diagnostics reagents.
The activities of the CA have met the initial goal which was to bring together scientists from diverse fields but all working on AIDS and HIV infection.
The CA associated 18 European research groups whose activities were organized as follows:
1 closely knit sub-networks of directly collaborating groups to increase the level of exchange of personnel and reagents;
2 organization of workshops and limited meetings on specific topics of interest only to the directly involved scientists;
3 publication of the proceedings of some of the meetings in books, which may be of interest to the scientific community at large.