Microbial translocation (MT) from the gut is implicated in driving immune activation, increasing morbidity and mortality in HIV. We used bacterial 16S rDNA PCR, Sanger sequencing, and high-throughput sequencing to identify microbial DNA in the bloodstream of HIV-infected children in London, United Kingdom. Blood samples were collected from sequential children attending the HIV clinic at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. DNA extraction, broad range 16S rDNA PCR, and standard Sanger sequencing were carried out. A subset of positive samples was analyzed by high-throughput sequencing (Roche 454 platform). Of 105 samples collected from sequential children, nine were positive using broad range 16S rDNA PCR (8.6%; 95% CI 4.4–16%). From three amplicons, 16S rDNA sequences were identified as Streptococcus, Propionibacterium acnes, and coagulase-negative Staphylococcus. Four positive samples were analyzed by high-throughput sequencing. In the three samples in which organisms were identified by Sanger sequencing, the same species were identified. Further species, in differing proportions, were identified in all four samples. The identified organisms included known gut orders Bifidobacteriaceae, Lactobacillaceae, Bacteroidales, and Clostridiales. In immunocompetent children of equivalent age, no bacterial DNA was detected in blood using this approach. This is the first study to our knowledge using molecular techniques to identify MT in children in the developed world. Our data indicate that 16S rDNA is detectable in 8.6% of HIV-infected children. Levels of DNA were low and from multiple bacterial species. Further studies are needed to ascertain the importance of MT in HIV-infected children.
A retrospective correlational analysis of UC781 (0.1, 0.25%) gel pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) was undertaken using data generated in the RMP-01/MTN-006 Phase 1 rectal safety study of the UC781 microbicide gel, where strong UC781-related inhibition of ex vivo biopsy infectibility (PD) was seen. Precision analysis, linear and logistical correlational methods were applied to model the dose-response relationship. Four analyses of explant virus growth were compared to determine tissue concentrations of UC781 needed to maintain ex vivo virus growth below a range of cut-points. SOFT, a cross-sectional index from a growth curve, and cumulative p24 endpoints were the most precise measurement of ex vivo HIV infection and significantly (p<0.01) correlated with rectal tissue UC781 concentrations. Cut-points reflecting infectibility, ranging from 200 to 1300 p24 pg/ml, provided EC50,90,95 tissue levels of UC781. A cut-point of 200 p24 pg/ml provided an EC50 of 2148 UC781 ng/g tissue; a cut-point of 1100 p24 predicted a lower EC50 of 101 UC781 ng/g. A 30- to 170-fold EC90:EC50 ratio was found. Higher p24 cut-points provided more predictive models. Tissue UC781 levels and ex vivo infectibility data were correlated to model dose-response drug efficacy in this small Phase 1 trial. Logistic regression analyses showed EC50,90,95 values were inversely related to p24 cut-point levels, providing clinically relevant insights into tissue drug concentration necessary for ex vivo suppression of HIV tissue infectibility. This first PK-PD assessment of topical microbicides demonstrates feasibility in Phase 1 trials, enabling comparisons of microbicide efficacy (i.e., EC50,90,95) between formulations, compartments, and application methods. (ClinicalTrials.gov; #NCT00408538)
Carbohydrate-binding agents (CBAs) are potential HIV microbicidal agents with a high genetic barrier to resistance. We wanted to evaluate whether two mannose-specific CBAs, recognizing multiple and often distinct glycan structures on the HIV envelope gp120, can interact synergistically against HIV-1, HIV-2, and HIV-1 strains that were selected for resistance against particular CBAs [i.e., 2G12 mAb and microvirin (MVN)]. Paired CBA/CBA combinations mainly showed synergistic activity against both wild-type HIV-1 and HIV-2 but also 2G12 mAb- and MVN-resistant HIV-1 strains as based on the median effect principle with combination indices (CIs) ranging between 0.29 and 0.97. Upon combination, an increase in antiviral potency of griffithsin (GRFT) up to ∼12-fold (against HIV-1), ∼8-fold (against HIV-2), and ∼6-fold (against CBA-resistant HIV-1) was observed. In contrast, HHA/GNA combinations showed additive activity against wild-type HIV-1 and HIV-2 strains, but remarkable synergy with HHA and GNA was observed against 2G12 mAb- and MVN-resistant HIV-1 strains (CI, 0.64 and 0.49, respectively). Overall, combinations of GRFT and other CBAs showed synergistic activity against HIV-1, HIV-2, and even against certain CBA-resistant HIV-1 strains. The CBAs tested appear to have distinct binding patterns on the gp120 envelope and therefore do not necessarily compete with each other's glycan binding sites on gp120. As a result, there might be no steric hindrance between two different CBAs in their competition for glycan binding (except for the HHA/GNA combination). These data are encouraging for the use of paired CBA combinations in topical microbicide applications (e.g., creams, gels, or intravaginal rings) to prevent HIV transmission.
In the past few years, the transdisciplinary field of HIV prevention has reached several milestones. Topically applied tenofovir gel provided significant protection from sexual transmission of HIV in a large-scale clinical trial and oral Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) was recently approved for preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) following two successful clinical trials in men and women. These achievements are tempered by the disappointing results of other clinical trials, which highlight the complexities of prevention research. In this perspective, we discuss scientific and developmental gaps for topical chemoprophylaxis of the sexual transmission of HIV, which depends on the complex interactions between the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs, formulation and delivery systems, anatomic site of transmission, and host mucosal immune defenses. Despite the considerable time and resources devoted to unraveling the initial steps in sexual transmission of HIV, current knowledge is based on animal models and human explanted tissue, which may not fully recapitulate what happens clinically. Understanding these events, including the role that sex hormones, semen, and mucosal secretions play in transmission, and the interplay between innate immunity, the mucosal environment, and drug efficacy is paramount. This drives some of the most pressing questions in the field.
As the AIDS epidemic continues with women being disproportionately affected, it is crucial to understand factors that predict the risk of heterosexual HIV-1 transmission. We investigated whether genital tract viral load (GTVL) in cervical-vaginal lavages (CVL) from HIV-1-positive women with moderately low CD4 T cell counts correlates with cytokine levels, antimicrobial concentrations, and intrinsic anti-HIV activity. CVL were collected from 19 HIV-1-positive women with moderately low CD4 T cell counts [mean 381 cells/mm3 (227–536 cells/mm3)]. None of the women was on antiretroviral therapy. The women were categorized into those with detectable GTVL or those with undetectable GTVL (detectable GTVL RNA levels > 400 copies/ml). Women were also categorized according to bacterial vaginosis (BV) status irrespective of GTVL. The TZM-bl assay was used to determine the presence of infectious virus and anti-HIV activity. Significantly higher levels of RANTES, Eotaxin, Fractalkine, IL-1α, IL-6, MCP-1, MIP1β, MIP1α, TNF-α, and GM-CSF were observed in women with detectable GTVL compared to women with undetectable GTVL. No significant differences were observed in the following cytokines and chemokines: G-CSF, IL-1RA, IL-8, and IP-10. GTVL did not correlate either with antimicrobials known to have anti-HIV activity or with the presence of infectious virus. BV status did not have a significant effect on anti-HIV activity. These findings further our understanding of the role of GTVL in determining the cytokine and chemokine milieu in the female reproductive tract.
A group of over 200 international scientists came together on April 15 in Sydney, Australia just before the 2012 International Microbicides Conference as a part of a workshop to address the basic concepts and factors that modulate HIV infection at the mucosal surface. The meeting focused on defining the interaction between virus, prevailing host physiology, microbiota, and innate and adaptive immune responses and how they combine to impact the outcome at the moment of potential viral transmission. Speakers examined the biology of HIV entry during transmission, innate and natural antiviral mechanisms at the mucosa, microbicide efficacy, pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamics, animal models, and opportunities for combining HIV prevention strategies. Other viral infection models both in vivo and in vitro were considered for the insights they provided into HIV transmission events. The workshop raised important questions that we need to answer to further our basic understanding of host and viral factors influencing HIV transmission to inform the development of novel prevention strategies.
Sexual transmission accounts for the majority of new HIV infections worldwide with sexually exposed cervicovaginal and colorectal mucosae being primary sites of infection. Two recent Phase 1 rectal microbicide trials included, as an ancillary endpoint, suppression of ex vivo HIV infection of in vivo microbicide-exposed rectal mucosal tissue biopsies. Both trials demonstrated significant suppression of biopsy infectibility in drug-exposed versus placebo-exposed tissue. This potential early biomarker of efficacy has raised the feasibility of utilizing “snap-frozen” tissue samples, acquired at multiple trial sites to be shipped for central processing, providing a mechanism to correlate tissue drug concentrations with a functional index of HIV prevention. While previous reports have indicated acceptable comparability of fresh versus freeze-thawed cervicovaginal tissue samples, no similar evaluations with colorectal tissue biopsies have been done. In this study, rectal biopsies from healthy, HIV-seronegative participants were assessed for structural integrity (histology), viability (MTT assays), and tissue infectibility to compare results from fresh versus combinations of freeze/thaw protocols. Results indicated that while all protocols showed equivalent viability with fresh samples (MTT), histology documented poor preservation of tissue integrity following freezing. Infectibility results from freeze-thawed colorectal tissue were markedly lower (usually<25% of fresh samples) and varied greatly and unpredictably. Centralized colorectal tissue infectibility assays using biopsies from remote trial sites cannot currently be supported under these protocols.
This study was designed to assess the safety, acceptability, pharmacokinetic (PK), and pharmacodynamic (PD) responses to rectal administration of tenofovir (TFV) 1% vaginally formulated gel and oral tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF). This study was designed as a phase 1, randomized, two-site (United States), double-blind, placebo-controlled study of sexually abstinent men and women. Eighteen participants received a single 300-mg exposure of oral TDF and were then randomized 2:1 to receive a single and then seven daily exposures of rectal TFV or hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC) placebo gel. Safety endpoints included clinical adverse events (AEs) and mucosal safety parameters. Blood and colonic biopsies were collected for PK analyses and ex vivo HIV-1 challenge. No serious AEs were reported. However, AEs were significantly increased with 7-day TFV gel use, most prominently with gastrointestinal AEs (p=0.002). Only 25% of participants liked the TFV gel. Likelihood of use “if somewhat protective” was ∼75% in both groups. Indices of mucosal damage showed minimal changes. Tissue TFV diphosphate (TFV-DP) Cmax 30 min after single rectal exposure was 6–10 times greater than single oral exposure; tissue TFV-DP was 5.7 times greater following 7-day versus single rectal exposure. In vivo exposure correlated with significant ex vivo tissue infectibility suppression [single-rectal: p=0.12, analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) p=0.006; 7-day rectal: p=0.02, ANCOVA p=0.005]. Tissue PK–PD was significantly correlated (p=0.002). We conclude that rectal dosing with TFV 1% gel resulted in greater TFV-DP tissue detection than oral dosing with reduced ex vivo biopsy infectibility, enabling PK–PD correlations. On the basis of increased gastrointestinal AEs, rectally applied, vaginally formulated TFV was not entirely safe or acceptable, suggesting the need for alternative rectal-specific formulations.
The Thai Phase III clinical trial (RV144) showed modest efficacy in preventing HIV-1 acquisition. Plasma collected from HIV-1-uninfected trial participants completing all injections with ALVAC-HIV (vCP1521) prime and AIDSVAX B/E boost were tested for antibody responses against HIV-1 gp120 envelope (Env). Peptide microarray analysis from six HIV-1 subtypes and group M consensus showed that vaccination induced antibody responses to the second variable (V2) loop of gp120 of multiple subtypes. We further evaluated V2 responses by ELISA and surface plasmon resonance using cyclic (Cyc) and linear V2 loop peptides. Thirty-one of 32 vaccine recipients tested (97%) had antibody responses against Cyc V2 at 2 weeks postimmunization with a reciprocal geometric mean titer (GMT) of 1100 (range: 200–3200). The frequency of detecting plasma V2 antibodies declined to 19% at 28 weeks post-last injection (GMT: 110, range: 100–200). Antibody responses targeted the mid-region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes and has the amino acid sequence KQKVHALFYKLDIVPI (HXB2 Numbering sequence 169–184). Valine at position 172 was critical for antibody binding. The frequency of V3 responses at 2 weeks postimmunization was modest (18/32, 56%) with a GMT of 185 (range: 100–800). In contrast, naturally infected HIV-1 individuals had a lower frequency of antibody responses to V2 (10/20, 50%; p=0.003) and a higher frequency of responses to V3 (19/20, 95%), with GMTs of 400 (range: 100–3200) and 3570 (range: 200–12,800), respectively. RV144 vaccination induced antibodies that targeted a region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes. Early HIV-1 transmission events involve V2 loop interactions, raising the possibility that anti-V2 antibodies in RV144 may have contributed to viral inhibition.
The links between sexual violence, genitoanal injury, and HIV are understudied but potentially significant for understanding the epidemic's disproportionate impacts on young women and girls, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, other hyperendemic areas, and conflict-affected regions. A Scientific Research Planning Meeting was convened by the Social Science Research Council at the Greentree Foundation in New York, March 19–20, 2012, bringing together an interdisciplinary group of researchers, clinicians, and policy makers to identify knowledge needs and gaps in three key areas: (1) the role of genitoanal injury on HIV transmission, acquisition, and pathogenesis; (2) the influence of sex and age-related anatomic characteristics on HIV transmission, acquisition, and pathogenesis; and (3) the role of heterosexual anal intercourse in HIV transmission. This article reflects the consensus that emerged from the Greentree Meeting regarding priority scientific research questions in these three areas, associated data collection and measurement challenges and opportunities, and implications for policy and practice.
Thirty years after its beginning, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is still raging around the world. According to UNAIDS, in 2011 alone 1.7M deaths were attributable to AIDS, and 2.5M people were newly infected by the virus. Despite the success in treating HIV-infected people with potent antiretroviral drugs, preventing HIV infection is the key to ending the epidemic. Recently, the efficacy of topical and systemic antiviral chemoprophylaxis (i.e., preexposure prophylaxis or “PrEP”), using the same drugs used for HIV treatment, has been demonstrated in a number of clinical trials. However, results from other trials have been inconsistent, especially those evaluating PrEP in women. These inconsistencies may result from our incomplete understanding of pharmacokinetics (PK)/pharmacodynamics (PD) at the mucosal sites of sexual transmission: the male and female gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts. The drug concentrations used in these trials were derived from those used for treatment; however, we still do not know the relationship between the therapeutic and the preventive dose. This article presents the first comprehensive review of the available data in the HIV pharmacology field from animal models to human studies, and outlines gaps, challenges, and future directions. Addressing these pharmacological gaps and challenges will be critical in selecting and advancing future PrEP candidates and strategies with the greatest impact on the HIV epidemic.
A vital part of the renewed hope for a vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) is based on recent studies that have highlighted major sites of HIV-1 vulnerability that could be effectively targeted by a preventive vaccine. One of these potential vulnerabilities includes the dense cluster of carbohydrates surrounding HIV-1's envelope glycoproteins gp120 and gp41, typically referred to as the “glycan shield.” Recent data from several laboratories have shown that glycans on the HIV-1 envelope form key epitopes for broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAb). Moreover, HIV-1 envelope glycans play an important role in viral transmission, antigenicity, and immunogenicity. The recent availability of novel tools and technologies has now allowed investigators to leverage glycomic structure–function relationships in the design of candidate HIV-1 vaccines. Additionally, glycans modulate the immune response, playing an essential role in Fc receptor and complement activity. To promote cross-disciplinary collaboration and promote synergistic HIV-1- glycomics research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cosponsored and convened a 1.5-day workshop entitled “Functional Glycomics in HIV-1 Vaccine Design.” The meeting focused on the role of glycan interactions with neutralizing antibodies, the influence of immunoglobulin G (IgG) Fc receptor glycosylation, newly available glycomics technologies, and how new information on the role of glycans could be applied in HIV-1 immunogen design strategies. This report summarizes the discussions of this workshop.
In recent years, increasing numbers of patients infected with HIV-1 non-B subtypes have been treated with modern antiretroviral regimens. Therefore, a better knowledge of HIV drug resistance in non-B strains is crucial. Thus, we compared the mutational pathways involved in drug resistance among the most common non-B subtypes in Italy (F, C, and CRF02_AG) and the B subtype. In total, 2234 pol sequences from 1231 virologically failing patients from Central Italy were analyzed. The prevalence of resistance mutations in protease and reverse transcriptase between non-B and B subtypes has been evaluated. Among patients treated with nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) and with thymidine analogues (TA) experience, TAMs1 M41L and L210W were less prevalent in CRF02_AG, while TAMs2 T215F and K219E were more prevalent in the F subtype. In NRTI-treated patients having experience with abacavir, didanosine, tenofovir, or stavudine the K65R mutation was mostly prevalent in the C subtype. In non-NRTI (NNRTI)-treated patients infected by the C subtype the prevalence of K103N was lower than in patients infected with other subtypes, while the prevalence of Y181C and Y188L was higher compared to subtype B. The prevalence of Y181C was higher also in subtype F as compared to subtype B. In patients treated with protease inhibitors, L89V was predominantly found in CRF02_AG, while the TPV resistance mutation T74P was predominantly found in the C subtype. Some differences in the genotypic drug resistance have been found among patients infected with B, C, F, and CRF02_AG subtypes in relationship to treatment. These results may be useful for the therapeutic management of individuals infected with HIV-1 non-B strains.
The HIV-1 epidemic in Russia has been insufficiently studied, with only 11 complete genome sequences from this country currently available, only three of which are of the locally predominant genetic form, the former Soviet Union (FSU) subtype A variant (AFSU). Here we analyze 10 newly derived AFSU near full-length genome sequences from Russia. Samples were selected based on phylogenetic clustering in protease-reverse transcriptase in two of the major AFSU clusters, V77IPR (n=6), widely circulating in Russia and other FSU countries, and ASP1 (n=4), predominant in St. Petersburg. The phylogenetic analysis shows that the V77IPR genomes group in a monophyletic cluster together with 10 previously obtained AFSU genome sequences from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Cyprus, all bearing the V77I substitution in protease. Similarly, the four ASP1 genomes group in a monophyletic cluster. These results therefore show that the monophyly of V77IPR and ASP1 AFSU clusters is supported in near complete genomes.
We reported previously that the prevalence of drug-resistant HIV-1 among antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naive individuals in Northern Vietnam was 2.9% in 2007 and 6.2% in 2008. To investigate the continuing trend of prevalence, we collected plasma samples from 958 individuals in Hai Phong and Hanoi in 2009, extracted viral RNA from HIV-1 antibody-positive samples, and analyzed them genetically. HIV-1 antibody prevalence was 26.8% in injecting drug users (n=302), 13.4% in female sex workers (n=284), 0.5% in blood donors (n=206), and 0.6% in pregnant women (n=166). All HIV-1 strains were CRF01_AE. Nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor resistance mutations were found in two (2.0%) of the 102 successfully analyzed cases (one case with the Y181C and one with the K101E). No nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor resistance or protease inhibitor resistance mutations were detected. The prevalence of circulating ART-resistant HIV-1 in Northern Vietnam did not increase from 2007 to 2009, although the rate of ART coverage did increase.
Cellular proteins are essential for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication and may serve as viable new targets for treating infection. Using gene trap insertional mutagenesis, a high-throughput approach based on random inactivation of cellular genes, candidate genes were found that limit virus replication when mutated. Disrupted genes (N=87) conferring resistance to lytic infection with several viruses were queried for an affect on HIV-1 replication by utilizing small interfering RNA (siRNA) screens in TZM-bl cells. Several genes regulating diverse pathways were found to be required for HIV-1 replication, including DHX8, DNAJA1, GTF2E1, GTF2E2, HAP1, KALRN, UBA3, UBE2E3, and VMP1. Candidate genes were independently tested in primary human macrophages, toxicity assays, and/or Tat-dependent β-galactosidase reporter assays. Bioinformatics analyses indicated that several host factors present in this study participate in canonical pathways and functional processes implicated in prior genome-wide studies. However, the genes presented in this study did not share identity with those found previously. Novel antiviral targets identified in this study should open new avenues for mechanistic investigation.
Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1/2 (HTLV-1/2) infection is endemic in Brazil but representative donor prevalence and incidence data are lacking. All blood donations (2007–2009) from three blood centers in Brazil were studied. Samples reactive on one HTLV screening test (EIA) were retested with a different EIA; dual EIA reactivity correlated strongly with a confirmatory Western blot. Prevalence, incidence, and residual transfusion risk were calculated. Among 281,760 first-time donors, 363 were positive for HTLV on both EIAs (135 per 105, 95% CI 122–150). Prevalence differed considerably by region, from 83 to 222 per 105. Overall incidence rate was 3.6/105 person-years and residual transfusion risk was 5.0/106 per blood unit transfused. The logistic regression model showed significant associations with: age [adjusted odds ratio (aOR)=5.23 for age 50+ vs. <20], female sex (aOR=1.97), black (aOR=2.70 vs. white), and mixed skin colors (aOR=1.78 vs. white), and inversely with education (aOR=0.49, college vs. less than high school). HTLV testing with a dual-EIA strategy is feasible and can be useful in areas with low resources. Incidence and residual risk of HTLV-1 transmission by transfusion were relatively high and could be reduced by improving donor recruitment and selection in high prevalence areas. Blood center data may contribute to surveillance for HTLV infection.
Untreated HIV infection is associated with endothelial dysfunction and subsequent cardiovascular disease, likely due to both direct effects of the virus and to indirect effects of systemic inflammation on the vasculature. We have recently shown that treatment with the antiinflammatory agent pentoxifylline (PTX) improved in vivo endothelial function and reduced circulating levels of the inflammatory markers vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and interferon-gamma-induced protein (IP-10) in HIV-infected patients. To delineate the mechanisms underlying this therapeutic effect, we tested whether clinically relevant concentrations of PTX suppress VCAM-1 or IP-10 release in cultivated human lung microvascular endothelial cells. Indeed, we found that tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-induced VCAM-1 was reduced with concentrations of PTX in the low nanomolar range, comparable to plasma levels in PTX-treated groups. We also investigated the effect of HIV proteins and found that HIV transactivator of transcription (HIV-Tat) and HIV-envelope-derived recombinant gp120 enhanced TNF-α-induced VCAM-1 gene expression in lung microvascular and coronary macrovascular endothelial cells, respectively. In addition, PTX and a NF-κB-specific inhibitor reduced this enhanced VCAM-1 gene induction in microvascular and macrovascular endothelial cells. These results provide novel insights in how the antiinflammatory agent PTX can directly reduce HIV-associated proinflammatory endothelial activation, which may underlie vascular dysfunction and coronary vascular diseases.
RNASEL seems to function as an intracellular restriction factor blocking the establishment of infections caused by viral agents. Herein, we investigated whether allelic variants at the RNASEL gene might influence the susceptibility to viral infections or conditions potentially linked to viral agents. The allelic distribution at codon 462 was 139 (33.9%), 204 (49.8%), and 67 (16.3%) for RR, RQ, and QQ, respectively, in 410 individuals in Spain. There were no significant differences comparing 105 blood donors and 71 patients with HIV-1 infection, 27 with chronic hepatitis C, 67 with prostate cancer, and 107 with chronic fatigue syndrome. In contrast, two-thirds of 18 patients with HTLV-1 infection and 15 with chronic hepatitis B harbored RR. Thus, polymorphisms at the RNASEL gene do not seem to influence the susceptibility to common viral infections or conditions potentially of viral etiology. The role in influencing the susceptibility to HTLV-1 or HBV chronic infection warrants further examination in larger patient populations.
Vaginal bacterial communities play an important role in human health and have been shown to influence HIV infection. Pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) are used as an animal model of HIV vaginal infection of women. Since the bacterial microbiota could influence retrovirus infection of pigtailed macaques, the genital microbiota in 10 cycling macaques was determined by pyrosequencing. The microbiota of all macaques was polymicrobial with a median of 13 distinct genera. Strikingly, the genera Sneathia and Fusobacterium, both in the phylum Fusobacteria, accounted for 18.9% and 13.3% of sequences while the next most frequent were Prevotella (5.6%), Porphyromonas (4.1%), Atopobium (3.6%), and Parvimonas (2.6%). Sequences corresponding to Lactobacillus comprised only 2.2% of sequences on average and were essentially all L. amylovorus. Longitudinal sampling of the 10 macaques over an 8-week period, which spanned at least one full ovulatory cycle, showed a generally stable presence of the major types of bacteria with some exceptions. These studies show that the microbiota of the pigtailed macaques is substantially dissimilar to that found in most healthy humans, where the genital microbiota is usually dominated by Lactobacillus sp. The polymicrobial makeup of the macaque bacterial populations, the paucity of lactobacilli, and the specific types of bacteria present suggest that the pigtailed macaque microbiota could influence vaginal retrovirus infection.
Assays to determine cross-sectional HIV incidence misclassify some individuals with nonrecent HIV infection as recently infected, overestimating HIV incidence. We analyzed factors associated with false-recent misclassification in five African countries. Samples from 2197 adults from Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda who were HIV infected >12 months were tested using the (1) BED capture enzyme immunoassay (BED), (2) avidity assay, (3) BED and avidity assays with higher assay cutoffs (BED+avidity screen), and (4) multiassay algorithm (MAA) that includes the BED+avidity screen, CD4 cell count, and HIV viral load. Logistic regression identified factors associated with misclassification. False-recent misclassification rates and 95% confidence intervals were BED alone: 7.6% (6.6, 8.8); avidity assay alone: 3.5% (2.7, 4.3); BED+avidity screen: 2.2% (1.7, 2.9); and MAA: 1.2% (0.8, 1.8). The misclassification rate for the MAA was significantly lower than the rates for the other three methods (each p<0.05). Misclassification rates were lower when the analysis was limited to subtype C-endemic countries, with the lowest rate obtained for the MAA [0.8% (0.2, 1.9)]. Factors associated with misclassification were for BED alone: country of origin, antiretroviral treatment (ART), viral load, and CD4 cell count; for avidity assay alone: country of origin; for BED+avidity screen: country of origin and ART. No factors were associated with misclassification using the MAA. In a multivariate model, these associations remained significant with one exception: the association of ART with misclassification was completely attenuated. A MAA that included CD4 cell count and viral load had lower false-recent misclassification than the BED or avidity assays (alone or in combination). Studies are underway to compare the sensitivity of these methods for detection of recent HIV infection.
A nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) backbone is a recommended component of standard highly active antiretroviral therapy (sHAART). However, long-term NRTI exposure can be limited by toxicities. NRTI class-sparing alternatives are warranted in select patient populations. This is a 48-week single-center, open-label pilot study in which 60 HIV-infected adults with plasma HIV-1 RNA (<50 copies/ml) on sHAART were randomized (2:1) to lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r) 400/100 mg BID+raltegravir (RAL) 400 mg BID switch (LPV-r/RAL arm) or to continue on sHAART. The primary endpoint was the proportion of subjects with HIV-RNA<50 copies/ml at week 48. Secondary efficacy and immunologic and safety endpoints were evaluated. Demographics and baseline lipid profile were similar across arms. Mean entry CD4 T cell count was 493 cells/mm3. At week 48, 92% [95% confidence interval (CI): 83–100%] of the LPV-r/RAL arm and 88% (95% CI: 75–100%) of the sHAART arm had HIV-RNA<50 copies/ml (p=0.70). Lipid profile (mean±SEM, mg/dl, LPV-r/RAL vs. sHAART) at week 24 was total-cholesterol 194±5 vs. 176±9 (p=0.07), triglycerides 234±30 vs. 133±27 (p=0.003), and LDL-cholesterol 121±6 vs. 110±8 (p=0.27). There were no serious adverse events (AEs) in either arm. Regimen change occurred in three LPV-r/RAL subjects (n=1, due to LPV-r/RAL-related AEs) vs. 0 in sHAART. There were no differences between arms in bone mineral density, total body fat composition, creatinine clearance, or CD4 T cell counts at week 48. In virologically suppressed patients on HAART, switching therapy to the NRTI-sparing LPV-r/RAL combination produced similar sustained virologic suppression and immunologic profile as sHAART. AEs were comparable between arms, but the LPV-r/RAL arm experienced higher triglyceridemia.
The distribution of HIV-1 subtypes and genetic characterization of CRF01_AE in Guangxi, southern China were identified. The distribution of HIV-1 genotypes based on gag, pol, and partial env sequences (n=349) was as follows: CRF01_AE (66.5%), CRF08_BC (19.2%), CRF07_BC (7.2%), URF (4.6%), subtype B (1.7%), and subtype B′ (0.9%). CRF01_AE predominated in all geographic regions and risk populations and there were multiple introductions of CRF01_AE strains in Guangxi. We found a peculiar CRF01_AE monophyletic lineage distinct from other CRF01_AE viruses, and we designated it “CRF01_AE-v” for convenience. CRF01_AE-v circulating in both heterosexuals and injecting drug users (IDUs) had accounted for 39.7% of CRF01_AE. It showed a selective advantage in the Guangxi population and formed its own characteristic compared with all the CRF01_AE references. Our results suggested that CRF01_AE-v was a new variant of CRF01_AE and it might lead to a new epidemic in Guangxi.
After screening a large number of clinical samples of HIV-1 subtype C in India, a subset of viral strains containing sequence insertions upstream of the viral enhancer has been identified. The sequence insertions contained binding sites for at least two different transcription factors NF-κB and RBEIII, importantly, in a mutually exclusive fashion. Furthermore, while some of the viral strains contained insertions of κB-like sites, a few others contained dual insertions of the RBEIII and κB sites together but only one of the two was intact. NF-κB acquisition appears to be the most common phenotype unique for subtype C with nearly half of the variant strains containing such insertions. Given that subtype C already contains three functional NF-κB sites in the viral enhancer, acquisition of a fourth NF-κB motif in some variant viral strains is intriguing. Further investigation is warranted to examine the significance of the sequence insertions for the replicative fitness of the variant viral strains.
Thirty HIV-1 URF_01AE/ B′ complete or nearly full-length genome sequences sampled within Southeast Asia were obtained from the Los Alamos HIV Sequence Database. Phylogenetic and recombinant analyses revealed that three sequences indeed displayed the identical recombinant structure. Of note, the three subjects, harboring novel CRF01_AE/B recombinants, did not have apparent epidemiological linkage. They fulfilled the criteria for the designation of a new circulating recombinant form (CRF) and constituted the 52nd CRF identified in the worldwide HIV-1 pandemic. In this chimera, two short subtype B segments were inserted into a backbone of CRF_01AE. The breakpoints corresponded to HXB2 nucleotide positions 2930, 3251, 8521, and 9004 approximately. This CRF is the first one identified by neatening and analyzing the sequences already presented in the Los Alamos HIV Sequence Database. This indicates that we should pay attention not only to explicit subtype sequences but also to those classified as a unique recombinant form (URF) so far.