A Quantitative Approach to SIV Functional Latency in Brain Macrophages

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Lentiviruses are retroviruses that primarily infect myeloid cells, leading to acute inflammatory infections in many tissues particularly, lung, joints and the central nervous system (CNS). Acute infection by lentiviruses is followed by persistent/latent infections that are not cleared by the host immune system. HIV and SIV are lentiviruses that also infect CD4+ lymphocytes as well as myeloid cells in blood and multiple tissues. HIV infection of myeloid cells in brain, lung and heart cause tissue specific diseases as well as infect cells in gut, lymph nodes and spleen. AIDS dementia and other tissue specific disease are observed when infected individuals are immunosuppressed and the number of circulating CD4+ T cells declines to low levels. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) controls viral spread and dramatically changes the course of immunodeficiency and AIDS dementia. However, ART does not eliminate virus-infected cells. Brain macrophages contain HIV DNA and may represent a latent reservoir that persists. HIV latency in CD4+ lymphocytes is the main focus of current research and concern in efforts to eradicate HIV. However, a number of studies have demonstrated that myeloid cells in blood and tissues of ART suppressed individuals harbor HIV DNA. The resident macrophages in tissues such as brain (microglia), spleen (red pulp macrophages) and alveolar macrophages in lung are derived from the yolk sac and can self renew. The question of the latent myeloid reservoir in HIV has not been rigorously examined and its potential as a barrier to eradication been considered. Using a well characterized SIV ART suppressed, non-human primate (NHP) model, our laboratory developed the first quantitative viral outgrowth assay (QVOA) designed to evaluate latently infected CD4+ lymphocytes and more recently developed a similar protocol for the assessment of latently infected myeloid cells in blood and brain. Using an SIV ART model, it was demonstrated that myeloid cells in blood and brain harbor latent SIV that can be reactivated and produce infectious virus in vitro. These studies demonstrate for the first time that myeloid cells have the potential to be a latent reservoir of HIV that produces infectious virus that can be reactivated in the absence of ART and during HIV eradication strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019


  • ART
  • HIV
  • Latent reservoir
  • QVOA
  • SIV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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