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1.  Quantitative measurement of HER2 expression in breast cancers: comparison with ‘real-world’ routine HER2 testing in a multicenter Collaborative Biomarker Study and correlation with overall survival 
Accurate assessment of HER2 status is critical in determining appropriate therapy for breast cancer patients but the best HER2 testing methodology has yet to be defined. In this study, we compared quantitative HER2 expression by the HERmark™ Breast Cancer Assay (HERmark) with routine HER2 testing by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and correlated HER2 results with overall survival (OS) of breast cancer patients in a multicenter Collaborative Biomarker Study (CBS).
Two hundred and thirty-two formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded breast cancer tissues and local laboratory HER2 testing results were provided by 11 CBS sites. HERmark assay and central laboratory HER2 IHC retesting were retrospectively performed in a blinded fashion. HER2 results by all testing methods were obtained in 192 cases.
HERmark yielded a continuum of total HER2 expression (H2T) ranging from 0.3 to 403 RF/mm2 (approximately 3 logs). The distribution of H2T levels correlated significantly (P <0.0001) with all routine HER2 testing results. The concordance of positive and negative values (equivocal cases excluded) between HERmark and routine HER2 testing was 84% for local IHC, 96% for central IHC, 85% for local FISH, and 84% for local HER2 status. OS analysis revealed a significant correlation of shorter OS with HER2 positivity by local IHC (HR = 2.6, P = 0.016), central IHC (HR = 3.2, P = 0.015), and HERmark (HR = 5.1, P <0.0001) in this cohort of patients most of whom received no HER2-targeted therapy. The OS curve of discordant low (HER2 positive but H2T low, 10% of all cases) was aligned with concordant negative (HER2 negative and H2T low, HR = 1.9, P = 0.444), but showed a significantly longer OS than concordant positive (HER2 positive and H2T high, HR = 0.31, P = 0.024). Conversely, the OS curve of discordant high (HER2 negative but H2T high, 9% of all cases) was aligned with concordant positive (HR = 0.41, P = 0.105), but showed a significantly shorter OS than concordant negative (HR = 41, P <0.0001).
Quantitative HER2 measurement by HERmark is highly sensitive, accurately quantifies HER2 protein expression and correlates well with routine HER2 testing. When HERmark and local HER2 results were discordant, HERmark more accurately predicted overall survival.
PMCID: PMC4391602  PMID: 25886996
2.  CCR5 Expression Is Reduced in Lymph Nodes of HIV Type 1–Infected Women, Compared With Men, But Does Not Mediate Sex-Based Differences in Viral Loads 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;209(6):922-930.
Background. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)–infected women have lower viral loads than men but similar rates of disease progression. We hypothesized that sex-based differences in CCR5 expression mediate viral load differences.
Methods. CCR5 was analyzed by flow cytometry in disaggregated lymph node cells from untreated HIV-1–infected women (n = 28) and men (n = 27). The frequencies of HIV-1 RNA–producing cells in the lymph node were determined by in situ hybridization. Linear and generalized linear regression models were used.
Results. The percentage of CCR5+CD3+CD4+ cells was lower in women (mean, 12%) than men (mean, 16%; P = .034). Neither the percentage of CCR5+CD3+CD4+ cells nor the CCR5 density predicted viral load or HIV-1 RNA–producing lymph node cells (P ≥ .24), after adjusting for CD4+ T-cell count, race, and age. Women had marginally fewer HIV-1 RNA–producing cells (mean, 0.21 cells/mm2) than men (mean, 0.44 cells/mm2; P = .046). After adjusting for the frequency of HIV-1 RNA–producing cells and potential confounders, the viral load in women were 0.46 log10 copies/mL lower than that in men (P = .018).
Conclusions. Reduced lymph node CCR5 expression in women did not account for the viral load difference between sexes. CCR5 expression did not predict viral load or frequencies of HIV-1 RNA–producing cells, indicating that physiologic levels of CCR5 do not limit HIV-1 replication in lymph node. Less plasma virus was associated with each HIV-1 RNA–producing cell in women as compared to men, suggesting that women may either produce fewer virions per productively infected cell or more effectively clear extracellular virus.
PMCID: PMC3935472  PMID: 24179109
Lymph node; CCR5; Immune activation; Sex differences; HIV-1
3.  Short Communication: Evolution of HIV-1 Coreceptor Usage and Coreceptor Switching During Pregnancy 
Coreceptor switch from CCR5 to CXCR4 is associated with HIV disease progression. To document the evolution of coreceptor tropism during pregnancy, a longitudinal study of envelope gene sequences was performed in a group of pregnant women infected with HIV-1 of clade B (n=10) or non-B (n=9). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the V1-V3 region was performed on plasma viral RNA, followed by cloning and sequencing. Using geno2pheno and PSSMX4R5, the presence of X4 variants was predicted in nine of 19 subjects (X4 subjects) independent of HIV-1 clade. Six of nine X4 subjects exhibited CD4+ T cell counts <200 cells/mm3, and the presence of X4-capable virus was confirmed using a recombinant phenotypic assay in four of seven cases where testing was successful. In five of nine X4 subjects, a statistically significant decline in the geno2pheno false-positive rate was observed during the course of pregnancy, invariably accompanied by progressive increases in the PSSMX4R5 score, the net charge of V3, and the relative representation of X4 sequences. Evolution toward X4 tropism was also echoed in the primary structure of V2, as an accumulation of substitutions associated with CXCR4 tropism was seen in X4 subjects. Results from these experiments provide the first evidence of the ongoing evolution of coreceptor utilization from CCR5 to CXCR4 during pregnancy in a significant fraction of HIV-infected women. These results inform changes in host–pathogen interactions that lead to a directional shaping of viral populations and viral tropism during pregnancy, and provide insights into the biology of HIV transmission from mother to child.
PMCID: PMC3938935  PMID: 24090041
The clinical application of CCR5 antagonists involves first determining the coreceptor usage by the infecting viral strain. Bioinformatics programs that predict coreceptor usage could provide an alternative method to screen candidates for treatment with CCR5 antagonists, particularly in countries with limited financial resources. Thus, the present study aims to identify the best approach using bioinformatics tools for determining HIV-1 coreceptor usage in clinical practice. Proviral DNA sequences and Trofile results from 99 HIV-1-infected subjects under clinical monitoring were analyzed in this study. Based on the Trofile results, the viral variants present were 81.1% R5, 21.4% R5X4 and 1.8% X4. Determination of tropism using a Geno2pheno[coreceptor] analysis with a false positive rate of 10% gave the most suitable performance in this sampling: the R5 and X4 strains were found at frequencies of 78.5% and 28.4%, respectively, and there was 78.6% concordance between the phenotypic and genotypic results. Further studies are needed to clarify how genetic diversity amongst virus strains affects bioinformatics-driven approaches for determining tropism. Although this strategy could be useful for screening patients in developing countries, some limitations remain that restrict the wider application of coreceptor usage tests in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC4131812  PMID: 25076427
HIV-1; Tropism; Brazil; V3 loop
6.  HER3, p95HER2, and HER2 protein expression levels define multiple subtypes of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer 
Trastuzumab is effective in the treatment of HER2/neu over-expressing breast cancer, but not all patients benefit from it. In vitro data suggest a role for HER3 in the initiation of signaling activity involving the AKT–mTOR pathway leading to trastuzumab insensitivity. We sought to investigate the potential of HER3 alone and in the context of p95HER2 (p95), a trastuzumab resistance marker, as biomarkers of trastuzumab escape. Using the VeraTag® assay platform, we developed a dual antibody proximity-based assay for the precise quantitation of HER3 total protein (H3T) from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) breast tumors. We then measured H3T in 89 patients with metastatic breast cancer treated with trastuzumab-based therapy, and correlated the results with progression-free survival and overall survival using Kaplan–Meier and decision tree analyses that also included HER2 total (H2T) and p95 expression levels. Within the sub-population of patients that over-expressed HER2, high levels of HER3 and/or p95 protein expression were significantly associated with poor clinical outcomes on trastuzumab-based therapy. Based on quantitative H3T, p95, and H2T measurements, multiple subtypes of HER2-positive breast cancer were identified that differ in their outcome following trastuzumab therapy. These data suggest that HER3 and p95 are informative biomarkers of clinical outcomes on trastuzumab therapy, and that multiple subtypes of HER2-positive breast cancer may be defined by quantitative measurements of H3T, p95, and H2T.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10549-013-2665-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3758835  PMID: 23959396
Breast cancer; HER2; HER3; p95HER2; Trastuzumab
7.  HIV-1 Tropism Testing in Subjects Achieving Undetectable HIV-1 RNA: Diagnostic Accuracy, Viral Evolution and Compartmentalization 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e67085.
Technically, HIV-1 tropism can be evaluated in plasma or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). However, only tropism testing of plasma HIV-1 has been validated as a tool to predict virological response to CCR5 antagonists in clinical trials. The preferable tropism testing strategy in subjects with undetectable HIV-1 viremia, in whom plasma tropism testing is not feasible, remains uncertain.
Methods & Results
We designed a proof-of-concept study including 30 chronically HIV-1-infected individuals who achieved HIV-1 RNA <50 copies/mL during at least 2 years after first-line ART initiation. First, we determined the diagnostic accuracy of 454 and population sequencing of gp120 V3-loops in plasma and PBMCs, as well as of MT-2 assays before ART initiation. The Enhanced Sensitivity Trofile Assay (ESTA) was used as the technical reference standard. 454 sequencing of plasma viruses provided the highest agreement with ESTA. The accuracy of 454 sequencing decreased in PBMCs due to reduced specificity. Population sequencing in plasma and PBMCs was slightly less accurate than plasma 454 sequencing, being less sensitive but more specific. MT-2 assays had low sensitivity but 100% specificity. Then, we used optimized 454 sequence data to investigate viral evolution in PBMCs during viremia suppression and only found evolution of R5 viruses in one subject. No de novo CXCR4-using HIV-1 production was observed over time. Finally, Slatkin-Maddison tests suggested that plasma and cell-associated V3 forms were sometimes compartmentalized.
The absence of tropism shifts during viremia suppression suggests that, when available, testing of stored plasma samples is generally safe and informative, provided that HIV-1 suppression is maintained. Tropism testing in PBMCs may not necessarily produce equivalent biological results to plasma, because the structure of viral populations and the diagnostic performance of tropism assays may sometimes vary between compartments. Thereby, proviral DNA tropism testing should be specifically validated in clinical trials before it can be applied to routine clinical decision-making.
PMCID: PMC3731261  PMID: 23936293
9.  Transmitted Drug Resistance Among Antiretroviral-Naive Patients with Established HIV Type 1 Infection in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Review of the Latin American and Caribbean Literature 
Emergence of HIV resistance is a concerning consequence of global scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART). To date, there is no published information about HIV resistance from the Dominican Republic. The study's aim was to determine the prevalence of transmitted drug resistance (TDR) to reverse transcriptase and protease inhibitors in a sample of chronically HIV-1-infected patients in one clinic in Santo Domingo. The data are presented in the context of a review of the TDR literature from Latin America and the Caribbean. Genotype testing was successfully performed on 103 treatment-naive adults planning to initiate antiretroviral therapy; the World Health Organization (WHO) list of surveillance drug resistance mutations (SDRM) was used to determine the presence of TDR mutations. WHO SDRM were identified in eight patients (7.8%); none had received sdNVP. There were no significant differences in epidemiologic or clinical variables between those with or without WHO SDRM. The prevalence of WHO SDRM was 1.0% and 6.8% for nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, respectively. No WHO SDRMs for protease inhibitors were identified. Among 12 studies of TDR in the region with a sample size of at least 100 subjects, the reported prevalence of SDRM ranged from 2.8% to 8.1%. The most commonly identified SDRM was K103N. This information adds to our understanding of the epidemiology of TDR in the region and the possible role such mutations could play in undermining first-line treatment. Ongoing surveillance is clearly needed to better understand the TDR phenomenon in the Caribbean.
PMCID: PMC3380383  PMID: 21851324
10.  HIV-1 Tropism Determination Using a Phenotypic Env Recombinant Viral Assay Highlights Overestimation of CXCR4-Usage by Genotypic Prediction Algorithms for CRRF01_AE and CRF02_AG 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e60566.
Human Immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV) entry into target cells involves binding of the viral envelope (Env) to CD4 and a coreceptor, mainly CCR5 or CXCR4. The only currently licensed HIV entry inhibitor, maraviroc, targets CCR5, and the presence of CXCX4-using strains must be excluded prior to treatment. Co-receptor usage can be assessed by phenotypic assays or through genotypic prediction. Here we compared the performance of a phenotypic Env-Recombinant Viral Assay (RVA) to the two most widely used genotypic prediction algorithms, Geno2Pheno[coreceptor] and webPSSM.
Co-receptor tropism of samples from 73 subtype B and 219 non-B infections was measured phenotypically using a luciferase-tagged, NL4-3-based, RVA targeting Env. In parallel, tropism was inferred genotypically from the corresponding V3-loop sequences using Geno2Pheno[coreceptor] (5–20% FPR) and webPSSM-R5X4. For discordant samples, phenotypic outcome was retested using co-receptor antagonists or the validated Trofile® Enhanced-Sensitivity-Tropism-Assay.
The lower detection limit of the RVA was 2.5% and 5% for X4 and R5 minority variants respectively. A phenotype/genotype result was obtained for 210 samples. Overall, concordance of phenotypic results with Geno2Pheno[coreceptor] was 85.2% and concordance with webPSSM was 79.5%. For subtype B, concordance with Geno2pheno[coreceptor] was 94.4% and concordance with webPSSM was 79.6%. High concordance of genotypic tools with phenotypic outcome was seen for subtype C (90% for both tools). Main discordances involved CRF01_AE and CRF02_AG for both algorithms (CRF01_AE: 35.9% discordances with Geno2Pheno[coreceptor] and 28.2% with webPSSM; CRF02_AG: 20.7% for both algorithms). Genotypic prediction overestimated CXCR4-usage for both CRFs. For webPSSM, 40% discordance was observed for subtype A.
Phenotypic assays remain the most accurate for most non-B subtypes and new subtype-specific rules should be developed for non-B subtypes, as research studies more and more draw conclusions from genotypically-inferred tropism, and to avoid unnecessarily precluding patients with limited treatment options from receiving maraviroc or other entry inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3648519  PMID: 23667426
11.  Drug Resistance and Coreceptor Usage in HIV Type 1 Subtype C-Infected Children Initiating or Failing Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa 
HIV-1 drug resistance monitoring in resource-poor settings is crucial due to limited drug alternatives. Recent reports of the increased prevalence of CXCR4 usage in subtype C infections may have implications for CCR5 antagonists in therapy. We investigated the prevalence of drug resistance mutations and CXCR4 coreceptor utilization of viruses from HIV-1 subtype C-infected children. Fifty-one children with virological failure during highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and 43 HAART-naive children were recruited. Drug resistance genotyping and coreceptor utilization assessment by phenotypic and genotypic methods were performed. At least one significant drug resistance mutation was present in 85.4% of HAART-failing children. Thymidine analogue mutations (TAMs) were detected in 58.5% of HAART-failing children and 39.0% had ≥3 TAMs. CXCR4 (X4) or dual (R5X4)/mixed (R5, X4) (D/M)-tropic viruses were found in 54.3% of HAART-failing and 9.4% of HAART-naive children (p<0.0001); however, the HAART-failing children were significantly older (p<0.0001). In multivariate logistic regression, significant predictors of CXCR4 usage included antiretroviral treatment, older age, and lower percent CD4+ T cell counts. The majority of genotypic prediction tools had low sensitivity (≤65.0%) and high specificity (≥87.5%) for predicting CXCR4 usage. Extensive drug resistance, including the high percentage of TAMs found, may compromise future drug choices for children, highlighting the need for improved treatment monitoring and adherence counseling. Additionally, the increased prevalence of X4/D/M viruses in HAART-failing children suggests limited use of CCR5 antagonists in salvage therapy. Enhanced genotypic prediction tools are needed as current tools are not sensitive enough for predicting CXCR4 usage.
PMCID: PMC3316120  PMID: 21819257
12.  Viral fitness cost prevents HIV-1 from evading dolutegravir drug pressure 
Retrovirology  2013;10:22.
Clinical studies have shown that integrase strand transfer inhibitors can be used to treat HIV-1 infection. Although the first-generation integrase inhibitors are susceptible to the emergence of resistance mutations that impair their efficacy in therapy, such resistance has not been identified to date in drug-naïve patients who have been treated with the second-generation inhibitor dolutegravir. During previous in vitro selection study, we identified a R263K mutation as the most common substitution to arise in the presence of dolutegravir with H51Y arising as a secondary mutation. Additional experiments reported here provide a plausible explanation for the absence of reported dolutegravir resistance among integrase inhibitor-naïve patients to date.
We now show that H51Y in combination with R263K increases resistance to dolutegravir but is accompanied by dramatic decreases in both enzymatic activity and viral replication.
Since H51Y and R263K may define a unique resistance pathway to dolutegravir, our results are consistent with the absence of resistance mutations in antiretroviral drug-naive patients treated with this drug.
PMCID: PMC3598531  PMID: 23432922
HIV integrase; Dolutegravir; Resistance to antiretrovirals; Viral fitness; Strand-transfer assay
13.  Correlation Between Quantitative HER-2 Protein Expression and Risk for Brain Metastases in HER-2+ Advanced Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Trastuzumab-Containing Therapy 
The Oncologist  2012;17(1):26-35.
The correlation between quantitative human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)-2 protein expression in primary breast cancers and the time to brain metastases in HER-2+ advanced breast cancer patients treated with trastuzumab was investigated. A strong relationship between the quantitative HER-2 protein expression level and the risk for brain relapse in HER-2+ advanced breast cancer patients was found.
Patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)-2+ breast cancer are at particularly high risk for brain metastases; however, the biological basis is not fully understood. Using a novel HER-2 assay, we investigated the correlation between quantitative HER-2 expression in primary breast cancers and the time to brain metastasis (TTBM) in HER-2+ advanced breast cancer patients treated with trastuzumab.
The study group included 142 consecutive patients who were administered trastuzumab-based therapy for HER-2+ metastatic breast cancer. HER-2/neu gene copy number was quantified as the HER-2/centromeric probe for chromosome 17 (CEP17) ratio by central laboratory fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). HER-2 protein was quantified as total HER-2 protein expression (H2T) by the HERmark® assay (Monogram Biosciences, Inc., South San Francisco, CA) in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor samples. HER-2 variables were correlated with clinical features and TTBM was measured from the initiation of trastuzumab-containing therapy.
A higher H2T level (continuous variable) was correlated with shorter TTBM, whereas HER-2 amplification by FISH and a continuous HER-2/CEP17 ratio were not predictive (p = .013, .28, and .25, respectively). In the subset of patients that was centrally determined by FISH to be HER-2+, an above-the-median H2T level was significantly associated with a shorter TTBM (hazard ratio, [HR], 2.4; p = .005), whereas this was not true for the median HER-2/CEP17 ratio by FISH (p = .4). Correlation between a continuous H2T level and TTBM was confirmed on multivariate analysis (HR, 3.3; p = .024).
These data reveal a strong relationship between the quantitative HER-2 protein expression level and the risk for brain relapse in HER-2+ advanced breast cancer patients. Consequently, quantitative assessment of HER-2 protein expression may inform and facilitate refinements in therapeutic treatment strategies for selected subpopulations of patients in this group.
PMCID: PMC3267818  PMID: 22234627
Advanced breast cancer; Brain metastasis; HER-2 amplification; Quantitative HER-2 protein level; Trastuzumab
14.  Drug Resistance and Viral Tropism in HIV-1 Subtype C-Infected Patients in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: Implications for Future Treatment Options 
Drug resistance poses a significant challenge for the successful application of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) globally. Furthermore, emergence of HIV-1 isolates that preferentially utilize CXCR4 as a coreceptor for cell entry, either as a consequence of natural viral evolution or HAART use may compromise the efficacy of CCR5 antagonists as alternative antiviral therapy.
We sequenced the pol gene of viruses from 45 individuals failing at least six months of HAART in Durban, South Africa to determine the prevalence and patterns of drug resistance mutations. Coreceptor usage profiles of these viruses and those from 45 HAART-naive individuals were analyzed using phenotypic and genotypic approaches.
Ninety-five percent of HAART-failing patients had at least one drug resistance mutation. Thymidine analog mutations (TAMs) were present in 55% of patients with 9% of individuals possessing mutations indicative of the TAM1 pathway, 44% had TAM2 while 7% had mutations common to both pathways. Sixty percent of HAART-failing subjects had X4/dual//mixed-tropic viruses compared to 30% of HAART-naïve subjects (p<0.02). Genetic coreceptor usage prediction algorithms correlated with phenotypic results with 60% of samples from HAART-failing subjects predicted to possess CXCR4-using (X4/dual/mixed viruses) versus 15% of HAART-naïve patients.
The high proportion of TAMs and X4/dual/mixed HIV-1 viruses among patients failing therapy highlight the need for intensified monitoring of patients taking HAART and the problem of diminished drug options (including CCR5 antagonists) for patients failing therapy in resource-poor settings.
PMCID: PMC3196677  PMID: 21709569
Coreceptor usage; viral tropism; antiretroviral drug resistance; HAART-failing patients; HAART-naïve patients
15.  Replication Capacity in Relation to Immunologic and Virologic Outcomes in HIV-1 infected, Treatment-Naïve Subjects 
To evaluate the association between baseline (BL) replication capacity (RC) [RCBL] and immunologic/virologic parameters (at BL and after 48 weeks on therapy) in HIV-1 infected subjects initiating antiretroviral therapy.
RCBL was determined using a modified Monogram PhenoSense HIV drug susceptibility assay on plasma HIV-1 from 321 treatment-naïve subjects from ACTG384. Univariate and multivariable analyses were performed to determine the association of RCBL with BL and on-therapy virologic and immunologic outcomes.
Higher RCBL was associated with lower baseline CD4 (CD4BL) (r=−0.23, p<0.0001), higher baseline HIV-1 (RNABL) (r=0.25, p<0.0001), higher CD4BL activation percent (r=0.23, p<0.0001) and lower CD4BL memory count (r=−0.21, p=0.0002).
In a multivariable model, week 48 CD4 increase (ΔCD448) was associated with lower CD4BL memory count and higher CD4BL naive percent (p=0.004, p=0.015, respectively). The interaction between CD4BL and RCBL was significant (p=0.018), with a positive association between RCBL and ΔCD448 in subjects with higher CD4BL, and a negative association at lower absCD4BL.
At baseline, higher RC was significantly associated with higher HIV-1 RNA, higher CD4 cell activation, lower CD4 cell count, and lower CD4 memory cell count. These factors may interact, directly or indirectly, to modify the extent to which CD4 recovery occurs in patients starting antiretroviral therapy at different baseline CD4 counts.
PMCID: PMC3482469  PMID: 19194319
HIV; replication capacity; viral fitness; pathogenesis; immune reconstitution; activation; memory
16.  Correlation of HER2, p95HER2 and HER3 Expression and Treatment Outcome of Lapatinib plus Capecitabine in her2-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39943.
Lapatinib plus capecitabine is an effective treatment option for trastuzumab-refractory HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. We have investigated the correlation between quantitative measures of HER2, p95HER2, and HER3 and treatment outcomes using lapatinib and capecitabine.
Total HER2 (H2T), p95HER2 (p95), and total HER3 (H3T) expression were quantified in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples using the VeraTag assays. Patients received lapatinib and capecitabine treatment following trastuzumab failure according to the Lapatinib Expanded Access Program. The association between the protein expression levels and clinical outcomes was analyzed.
A total of 52 patients were evaluable. H2T level was significantly higher in responders (median 93.49 in partial response, 47.66 in stable disease, and 17.27 in progressive disease; p = 0.020). Longer time-to-progression (TTP) was observed in patients with high H2T [p = 0.018, median 5.2 months in high (>14.95) vs. 1.8 in low (<14.95)] and high H3T [p = 0.017, median 5.0 months in high (>0.605) vs. 2.2 in low (<0.605)]. Patients having both high H2T and high H3T had significantly longer TTP [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 0.38 (95% CI 0.20–0.73), p = 0.004] and overall survival [adjusted HR 0.46 (95% CI 0.24–0.89), p = 0.020]. No significant association between p95 and response or survival was observed.
These data suggest a correlation between high HER2 and high HER3 expression and treatment outcome, while no significant difference was observed between clinical outcome and p95 expression level in this cohort of HER2-positive, trastuzumab-refractory metastatic breast cancer patients treated with lapatinib and capecitabine.
PMCID: PMC3407213  PMID: 22848366
17.  HLA-DR+ CD38+ CD4+ T Lymphocytes Have Elevated CCR5 Expression and Produce the Majority of R5-Tropic HIV-1 RNA In Vivo ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(19):10189-10200.
Percentages of activated T cells correlate with HIV-1 disease progression, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. We hypothesized that HLA-DR+ CD38+ (DR+ 38+) CD4+ T cells produce the majority of HIV-1 due to elevated expression of CCR5 and CXCR4. In phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-stimulated CD8-depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) infected with HIV-1 green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter viruses, DR− 38+ T cells constituted the majority of CCR5 (R5)-tropic (median, 62%) and CXCR4 (X4)-tropic HIV-1-producing cells (median, 61%), although cell surface CCR5 and CXCR4 were not elevated in this subset of cells. In lymph nodes from untreated individuals infected with R5-tropic HIV-1, percentages of CCR5+ cells were elevated in DR+ 38+ CD4+ T cells (median, 36.4%) compared to other CD4+ T-cell subsets (median values of 5.7% for DR− 38− cells, 19.4% for DR+ 38− cells, and 7.6% for DR− 38+ cells; n = 18; P < 0.001). In sorted CD8− lymph node T cells, median HIV-1 RNA copies/105 cells was higher for DR+ 38+ cells (1.8 × 106) than for DR− 38− (0.007 × 106), DR− 38+ (0.064 × 106), and DR+ 38− (0.18 × 106) subsets (n = 8; P < 0.001 for all). After adjusting for percentages of subsets, a median of 87% of viral RNA was harbored by DR+ 38+ cells. Percentages of CCR5+ CD4+ T cells and concentrations of CCR5 molecules among subsets predicted HIV-1 RNA levels among CD8− DR/38 subsets (P < 0.001 for both). Median HIV-1 DNA copies/105 cells was higher in DR+ 38+ cells (5,360) than in the DR− 38− (906), DR− 38+ (814), and DR+ 38− (1,984) subsets (n = 7; P ≤ 0.031). Thus, DR+ 38+ CD4+ T cells in lymph nodes have elevated CCR5 expression, are highly susceptible to infection with R5-tropic virus, and produce the majority of R5-tropic HIV-1. PBMC assays failed to recapitulate in vivo findings, suggesting limited utility. Strategies to reduce numbers of DR+ 38+ CD4+ T cells may substantially inhibit HIV-1 replication.
PMCID: PMC3196402  PMID: 21813616
18.  Design of a Potent d-Peptide HIV-1 Entry Inhibitor with a Strong Barrier to Resistance▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(21):11235-11244.
The HIV gp41 N-trimer pocket region is an ideal viral target because it is extracellular, highly conserved, and essential for viral entry. Here, we report on the design of a pocket-specific d-peptide, PIE12-trimer, that is extraordinarily elusive to resistance and characterize its inhibitory and structural properties. d-Peptides (peptides composed of d-amino acids) are promising therapeutic agents due to their insensitivity to protease degradation. PIE12-trimer was designed using structure-guided mirror-image phage display and linker optimization and is the first d-peptide HIV entry inhibitor with the breadth and potency required for clinical use. PIE12-trimer has an ultrahigh affinity for the gp41 pocket, providing it with a reserve of binding energy (resistance capacitor) that yields a dramatically improved resistance profile compared to those of other fusion inhibitors. These results demonstrate that the gp41 pocket is an ideal drug target and establish PIE12-trimer as a leading anti-HIV antiviral candidate.
PMCID: PMC2953169  PMID: 20719956
19.  HIV Replication Capacity Is an Independent Predictor of Disease Progression in Persons With Untreated Chronic HIV Infection 
To assess the effect of pol replication capacity (RC) on the hazard ratio of progression to a composite endpoint of time to progression to <350 CD4+ cells/μL, initiation of therapy or death.
pol RC assays were performed after study closure in baseline samples obtained from 316 enrollees in a prospectively monitored cohort of treatment-naive adults with ≥450 CD4+ cells/μL and ≥1000 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL.
The median RC was 79%. Patients with a lower RC had a lower median viral load (4.0 vs 4.2 Log HIV-1 RNA copies/mL, p=0.026) and a lower rate of protease inhibitor resistance 2% vs 8%, p=0.03). Otherwise, baseline demographic and laboratory characteristics were similar. The hazard ratio of progression to the composite endpoint was 0.73 (p=0.041) for persons with lower RC, 2.07 per 1.0 log10 higher viral load (p<0.001) and 0.86 per 50 cell/μL higher CD4+ cell count (p<0.001). The effect of lower RC was also significant in a separate analysis of time to initiation of therapy (p=0.04).
These results show that untreated patients with lower vs higher RC had a slower rate of progression as assessed by a composite outcome of time to CD4+ count ≤350 cells/μL, treatment initiation or death.
PMCID: PMC2837106  PMID: 20032783
disease progression; natural history; replication; HIV infections
20.  Differences in Reversion of Resistance Mutations to Wild-Type under Structured Treatment Interruption and Related Increase in Replication Capacity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e14638.
The CPCRA 064 study examined the effect of structured treatment interruption (STI) of up to 4 months followed by salvage treatment in patients failing therapy with multi-drug resistant HIV. We examined the relationship between the reversion rate of major reverse transcriptase (RT) resistance-associated mutations and change in viral replication capacity (RC). The dataset included 90 patients with RC and genotypic data from virus samples collected at 0 (baseline), 2 and 4 months of STI.
Principal Findings
Rapid shift towards wild-type RC was observed during the first 2 months of STI. Median RC increased from 47.5% at baseline to 86.0% at 2 months and to 97.5% at 4 months. Between baseline and 2 months of STI, T215F had the fastest rate of reversion (41%) and the reversion of E44D and T69D was associated with the largest changes in RC. Among the most prevalent RT mutations, M184V had the fastest rate of reversion from baseline to 2 months (40%), and its reversion was associated with the largest increase in RC. Most rates of reversion increased between 2 months and 4 months, but the change in RC was more limited as it was already close to 100%. The highest frequency of concurrent reversion was found for L100I and K103N. Mutagenesis tree models showed that M184V, when present, was overall the first mutation to revert among all the RT mutations reported in the study.
Longitudinal analysis of combined phenotypic and genotypic data during STI showed a large amount of variability in prevalence and reversion rates to wild-type codons among the RT resistance-associated mutations. The rate of reversion of these mutations may depend on the extent of RC increase as well as the co-occurring reversion of other mutations belonging to the same mutational pathway.
PMCID: PMC3031504  PMID: 21297946
21.  HIV Tropism and Decreased Risk of Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14349.
During the first two decades of the U.S. AIDS epidemic, and unlike some malignancies, breast cancer risk was significantly lower for women with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection compared to the general population. This deficit in HIV-associated breast cancer could not be attributed to differences in survival, immune deficiency, childbearing or other breast cancer risk factors. HIV infects mononuclear immune cells by binding to the CD4 molecule and to CCR5 or CXCR4 chemokine coreceptors. Neoplastic breast cells commonly express CXCR4 but not CCR5. In vitro, binding HIV envelope protein to CXCR4 has been shown to induce apoptosis of neoplastic breast cells. Based on these observations, we hypothesized that breast cancer risk would be lower among women with CXCR4-tropic HIV infection.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a breast cancer nested case-control study among women who participated in the WIHS and HERS HIV cohort studies with longitudinally collected risk factor data and plasma. Cases were HIV-infected women (mean age 46 years) who had stored plasma collected within 24 months of breast cancer diagnosis and an HIV viral load ≥500 copies/mL. Three HIV-infected control women, without breast cancer, were matched to each case based on age and plasma collection date. CXCR4-tropism was determined by a phenotypic tropism assay. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for breast cancer were estimated by exact conditional logistic regression. Two (9%) of 23 breast cancer cases had CXCR4-tropic HIV, compared to 19 (28%) of 69 matched controls. Breast cancer risk was significantly and independently reduced with CXCR4 tropism (adjusted odds ratio, 0.10, 95% CI 0.002–0.84) and with menopause (adjusted odds ratio, 0.08, 95% CI 0.001–0.83). Adjustment for CD4+ cell count, HIV viral load, and use of antiretroviral therapy did not attenuate the association between infection with CXCR4-tropic HIV and breast cancer.
Low breast cancer risk with HIV is specifically linked to CXCR4-using variants of HIV. These variants are thought to exclusively bind to and signal through a receptor that is commonly expressed on hyperplastic and neoplastic breast duct cells. Additional studies are needed to confirm these observations and to understand how CXCR4 might reduce breast cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3002931  PMID: 21179547
22.  Comparison of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Tropism Profiles in Clinical Samples by the Trofile and MT-2 Assays▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2009;53(11):4686-4693.
The recent availability of CCR5 antagonists as anti-human immunodeficiency virus (anti-HIV) therapeutics has highlighted the need to accurately identify CXCR4-using variants in patient samples when use of this new drug class is considered. The Trofile assay (Monogram Biosciences) has become the method that is the most widely used to define tropism in the clinic prior to the use of a CCR5 antagonist. By comparison, the MT-2 assay has been used since early in the HIV epidemic to define tropism in clinical specimens. Given that there are few data from direct comparisons of these two assays, we evaluated the performance of the plasma-based Trofile assay and the peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC)-based MT-2 assay for the detection of CXCR4 use in defining the tropism of HIV isolates derived from clinical samples. The various samples used for this comparison were derived from participants of the Amsterdam Cohort Studies on HIV infection and AIDS who underwent consecutive MT-2 assay testing of their PBMCs at approximately 3-month intervals. This unique sample set was specifically selected because consecutive MT-2 assays had demonstrated a shift from negative to positive in PBMCs, reflecting the first emergence of CXCR4-using virus in PBMCs above the level of detection of the assay in these individuals. Trofile testing was performed with clonal HIV type 1 (HIV-1) variants (n = 21), MT-2 cell culture-derived cells (n = 20) and supernatants (n = 42), and plasma samples (n = 76). Among the clonal HIV-1 variants and MT-2 cell culture-derived samples, the results of the Trofile and MT-2 assays demonstrated a high degree of concordance (95% to 98%). Among consecutive plasma samples, detection of CXCR4-using virus was at or before the time of first detection by the MT-2 assay in 5/10 patients by the original Trofile assay and in 9/10 patients by the enhanced-sensitivity Trofile assay. Differences in the time to the first detection of CXCR4 use between the MT-2 assay (PBMCs) and the original Trofile assay (plasma) were greatly reduced by the enhanced-sensitivity Trofile assay, suggesting that sensitivity for the detection of minor CXCR4-using variants may be a more important determinant of discordant findings than compartmentalization. The similarities in performance of the enhanced-sensitivity Trofile and MT-2 assays suggest that either may be an appropriate methodology to define tropism in patient specimens.
PMCID: PMC2772338  PMID: 19687240
23.  Relationship between HIV Co-Receptor Tropism and Disease Progression in Persons with Untreated Chronic HIV Infection 
To assess the effect of HIV coreceptor tropism (CRT) on the relative risk of progression to a composite outcome of CD4+ count ≤350 cells/μL, treatment initiation or death.
CRT assays were performed after study closure in baseline samples obtained from enrollees in a prospectively monitored cohort of treatment-naïve adults with ≥450 CD4+ cells/μL and ≥1,000 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL.
Dual/mixed (D/M) and R5 CRT was detected in 32 and 282 patients, respectively. The baseline CD4+ count (617 vs 694 cells/μL; p=0.05) differed in patients with D/M versus R5 CRT. Otherwise, baseline laboratory characteristics were similar.
The relative risk of progression to the composite endpoint was 2.15 (p=0.002) for D/M versus R5 CRT, 2.07 per 1.0 log10 higher viral load (p<0.001) and 0.87 per 50 cell/μL higher CD4+ cell count (p<0.001). The effect of D/M CRT was also significant in separate analyses of time to initiation of antiretroviral therapy or CD4+ cell count ≤350.
Untreated patients with D/M rather than R5 CRT had a faster rate of disease progression, whether assessed by a composite outcome of time to CD4+ count ≤350, treatment initiation or death, or by separate analyses of time to CD4+ count ≤350 or treatment initiation.
PMCID: PMC2670851  PMID: 19194318
Tropism; HIV receptors; Natural history; Progression; Prognosis
24.  A Public Health Model for the Molecular Surveillance of HIV Transmission in San Diego, California 
AIDS (London, England)  2009;23(2):225-232.
Current public health efforts often use molecular technologies to identify and contain communicable disease networks, but not for HIV. Here, we investigate how molecular epidemiology can be used to identify highly-related HIV networks within a population and how voluntary contact tracing of sexual partners can be used to selectively target these networks.
We evaluated the use of HIV-1 pol sequences obtained from participants of a community-recruited cohort (n=268) and a primary infection research cohort (n=369) to define highly related transmission clusters and the use of contact tracing to link other individuals (n=36) within these clusters. The presence of transmitted drug resistance was interpreted from the pol sequences (Calibrated Population Resistance v3.0).
Phylogenetic clustering was conservatively defined when the genetic distance between any two pol sequences was <1%, which identified 34 distinct transmission clusters within the combined community-recruited and primary infection research cohorts containing 160 individuals. Although sequences from the epidemiologically-linked partners represented approximately 5% of the total sequences, they clustered with 60% of the sequences that clustered from the combined cohorts (O.R. 21.7; p=<0.01). Major resistance to at least one class of antiretroviral medication was found in 19% of clustering sequences.
Phylogenetic methods can be used to identify individuals who are within highly related transmission groups, and contact tracing of epidemiologically-linked partners of recently infected individuals can be used to link into previously-defined transmission groups. These methods could be used to implement selectively targeted prevention interventions.
PMCID: PMC2644048  PMID: 19098493
molecular epidemiology; HIV; surveillance; contact tracing; drug resistance
25.  Active Methamphetamine Use is Associated with Transmitted Drug Resis-tance to Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors in Individuals with HIV Infection of Unknown Duration 
The Open AIDS Journal  2007;1:5-10.
Frequent methamphetamine use among recently HIV infected individuals is associated with transmitted drug resistance (TDR) to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI); however, the reversion time of TDR to drug susceptible HIV may exceed 3 years. We assessed whether recreational substance use is associated with detectable TDR among individuals newly diagnosed with HIV infection of unknown duration.
Cross-sectional analysis.
Subjects were enrolled at the University California, San Diego Early Intervention Program. Demographic, clinical and substance use data were collected using structured interviews. Genotypic resistance testing was performed using GeneSeq™, Monogram Biosciences. We analyzed the association between substance use and TDR using bivariate analyses and the corresponding transmission networks using phylogenetic models.
Between April 2004 and July 2006, 115 individuals with genotype data were enrolled. The prevalence of alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamine use were 98%, 71% and 64% respectively. Only active methamphetamine use in the 30 days prior to HIV diagnosis was independently associated with TDR to NNRTI (OR: 6.6; p=0.002).
Despite not knowing the duration of their HIV infection, individuals reporting active methamphetamine use in the 30 days prior to HIV diagnosis are at an increased risk of having HIV strains that are resistant to NNRTI.
PMCID: PMC2556194  PMID: 18923691
HIV; NNRTI; transmitted drug resistance; methamphetamine.

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