The treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), a combination of three or more antiretroviral drugs, suppresses viremia below the clinical limit of detection (50 HIV-1 RNA copies/ml), but latently infected resting CD4+ T cells serve as lifelong reservoirs, and low-level viremia can be detected with special assays. Recent studies have provided evidence for additional reservoirs that contribute to residual viremia but are not present in circulating cells. Identification of all the sources of residual viremia in humans may be difficult. These discoveries highlight the need for a tractable model system to identify additional viral reservoirs that could represent barriers to eradication. In this study, simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) were treated with four antiretroviral drugs to develop an animal model for viral suppression during effective HAART. Treatment led to a biphasic decay in viremia and a significant rise in levels of circulating CD4+ T cells. At terminal infection time points, the frequency of circulating resting CD4+ T cells harboring replicationcompetent virus was reduced to a low steady-state level similar to that observed for HIV-infected patients on HAART. The frequencies of resting CD4+ T cells harboring replication-competent virus in the pooled head lymph nodes, gut lymph nodes, spleen, and peripheral blood were reduced relative to those for untreated SIV-infected animals. These observations closely parallel findings for HIV-infected humans on suppressive HAART and demonstrate the value of this animal model to identify and characterize viral reservoirs persisting in the setting of suppressive antiretroviral drugs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science