Detection and molecular characterization of urinary tract HIV-1 populations

M. L. Mzingwane, G. Hunt, R. Lassauniere, M. Kalimashe, A. Bongwe, J. Ledwaba, R. E. Chaisson, N. Martinson, K. Richter, S. M. Bowyer, C. T. Tiemessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Identification of all possible HIV reservoirs is an important aspect in HIV eradication efforts. The urinary tract has however not been well studied as a potential HIV reservoir. In this pilot study we molecularly characterized HIV-1 viruses in urine and plasma samples to investigate HIV-1 replication, compartmentalization and persistence in the urinary tract. Methods: Prospectively collected urine and blood samples collected over 12-36 months from 20 HIV-1 infected individuals were analysed including sampling points from prior to and after ART initiation. HIV-1 pol gene RNA and DNA from urine supernatant and urine pellets respectively were analysed and compared to plasma RNA viruses from the same individual. Results: HIV-1 nucleic acid was detected in urine samples from at least one time point in 8/20 (40%) treatment-naïve subjects compared to 1/13 (7.7%) individuals on antiretroviral treatment (ART) during periods of plasma viral suppression and 1/7 (14.3%) individuals with virological failure. HIV-1 RNA was undetectable in urine samples after ART initiation but HIV-1 DNA was detectable in one patient more than 6 months after treatment initiation. There was co-clustering of urine-derived pol sequences but some urine-derived sequences were interspersed among the plasma-derived sequences. Conclusions: Suppressive ART reduces HIV-1 replication in the urinary tract but HIV-1 DNA may persist in these cells despite treatment. A larger number of sequences would be required to confirm HIV compartmentalization in the urinary tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number27
JournalAnnals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 24 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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