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Profound depletion of HIV-1 transcription in patients initiating antiretroviral therapy during acute infection.

  • Author(s): Schmid, Adrian
  • Gianella, Sara
  • von Wyl, Viktor
  • Metzner, Karin J
  • Scherrer, Alexandra U
  • Niederöst, Barbara
  • Althaus, Claudia F
  • Rieder, Philip
  • Grube, Christina
  • Joos, Beda
  • Weber, Rainer
  • Fischer, Marek
  • Günthard, Huldrych F
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2953504/
No data is associated with this publication.
Abstract

Although combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) initiated in the acute phase of HIV-1 infection may prevent expansion of the latent reservoir, its benefits remain controversial. In the current study, HIV-1 RNA transcription patterns in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were monitored during acute cART to assess the effect of early treatment on cellular viral reservoirs.Acutely HIV-1 infected patients (n = 24) were treated within 3-15 weeks after infection. Patients elected to cease treatment after ≥1 year of therapy. HIV-1 DNA (vDNA), HIV-1 RNA species expressed both in latently and productively infected cells, unspliced (UsRNA), multiply spliced (MsRNA-tatrev; MsRNA-nef), and PBMC-associated extracellular virion RNA (vRex), expressed specifically by productively infected cells, were quantified in PBMC by patient matched real-time PCR prior, during and post cART. In a matched control-group of patients on successful cART started during chronic infection (n = 15), UsRNA in PBMC and vDNA were measured cross-sectionally. In contrast to previous reports, PBMC-associated HIV-1 RNAs declined to predominantly undetectable levels on cART. After cART cessation, UsRNA, vRex, and MsRNA-tatrev rebounded to levels not significantly different to those at baseline (p>0.1). In contrast, MsRNA-nef remained significantly lower as compared to pretreatment (p = 0.015). UsRNA expressed at the highest levels of all viral RNAs, was detectable on cART in 42% of patients with cART initiated during acute infection as opposed to 87% of patients on cART initiated during chronic infection (Fisher's exact test; p = 0.008). Accordingly, UsRNA levels were 105-fold lower in the acute as compared to the chronic group.Early intervention resulted in profound depletion of PBMC expressing HIV-1 RNA. This is contrary to chronically infected patients who predominantly showed continuous UsRNA expression on cART. Thus, antiretroviral treatment initiated during the acute phase of infection prevented establishment or expansion of long-lived transcriptionally active viral cellular reservoirs in peripheral blood.

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