Drug resistance and poor virological responses are associated with well-characterized mutations in the viral reading frames that encode the proteins that are targeted by currently available antiretroviral drugs. An integrated system was developed that includes target gene amplification, DNA sequencing chemistry (TRUGENE HIV-1 Genotyping Kit), and hardware and interpretative software (the OpenGene DNA Sequencing System) for detection of mutations in the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease and reverse transcriptase sequences. The integrated system incorporates reverse transcription-PCR from extracted HIV-1 RNA, a coupled amplification and sequencing step (CLIP), polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, semiautomated analysis of data, and generation of an interpretative report. To assess the accuracy and robustness of the assay system, 270 coded plasma specimens derived from nine patients were sent to six laboratories for blinded analysis. All specimens contained HIV-1 subtype B viruses. Results of 270 independent assays were compared to “gold standard” consensus sequences of the virus populations determined by sequence analysis of 16 to 20 clones of viral DNA amplicons derived from two independent PCRs using primers not used in the kit. The accuracy of the integrated system for nucleotide base identification was 98.7%, and the accuracy for codon identification at 54 sites associated with drug resistance was 97.6%. In a separate analysis of plasma spiked with infectious molecular clones, the assay reproducibly detected all 72 different drug resistance mutations that were evaluated. There were no significant differences in accuracy between laboratories, between technologists, between kit lots, or between days. This integrated assay system for the detection of HIV-1 drug resistance mutations has a high degree of accuracy and reproducibility in several laboratories.
The TRUGENE HIV-1 Genotyping Kit and OpenGene DNA Sequencing System are designed to sequence the protease (PR)- and reverse transcriptase (RT)-coding regions of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) pol. Studies were undertaken to determine the accuracy of this assay system in detecting resistance-associated mutations and to determine the effects of RNA extraction methods, anticoagulants, specimen handling, and potentially interfering substances. Samples were plasma obtained from HIV-infected subjects or seronegative plasma to which viruses derived from wild-type and mutant infectious molecular clones (IMC) of HIV-1 were added. Extraction methods tested included standard and UltraSensitive AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR, QIAGEN viral RNA extraction mini kit, and QIAGEN Ultra HIV extraction kit, and NASBA manual HIV-1 quantitative NucliSens. Sequence data from test sites were compared to a “gold standard” reference sequence to determine the percent agreement. Comparisons between test and reference sequences at the nucleotide level showed 97.5 to 100% agreement. Similar results were obtained regardless of extraction method, regardless of use of EDTA or acid citrate dextrose as anticoagulant, and despite the presence of triglycerides, bilirubin, hemoglobin, antiretroviral drugs, HIV-2, hepatitis C virus (HCV), HBV, cytomegalovirus, human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), or HTLV-2. Samples with HIV-1 RNA titers of ≥1,000 copies/ml gave consistent results. The TRUGENE HIV-1 Genotyping Kit and OpenGene DNA Sequencing System consistently generate highly accurate sequence data when tested with IMC-derived HIV and patient samples.
Prophylactic use of antimicrobial agents and microbicides has been proven for many infections, including surgical, gastrointestinal, upper respiratory, and meningococcal infections. Antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women prevents mother-to-child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which has become rare in settings where access to therapy is widespread. Postexposure prophylaxis after needlestick injury or significant sexual exposure is recommended on the basis of animal studies and case-control observational studies, although use of these interventions is limited to those who recognize exposure, have access, and have the power to use the interventions. Clinical trials are evaluating whether regular or preexposure use of antiretroviral therapy provides additional protection for persons at high risk of infection who are also offered standard prevention care, including HIV testing, counseling, condoms, and management of sexually transmitted infections. Trials are evaluating topical or oral use. Concerns have arisen with regard to optimal dosing strategies, costs, access, drug resistance, risk behavior, and the role of communities. Future implementation, if warranted, will be guided by the results of clinical trials in progress and engagement of communities exposed to HIV.
Preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC/TDF) reduced HIV acquisition in the iPrEx trial among men who have sex with men and transgender women. Self-reported sexual risk behavior decreased overall, but may be affected by reporting bias. We evaluated potential risk compensation using biomarkers of sexual risk behavior.
Design and methods
Sexual practices were assessed at baseline and quarterly thereafter; perceived treatment assignment and PrEP efficacy beliefs were assessed at 12 weeks. Among participants with ≥1 follow-up behavioral assessment, sexual behavior, syphilis, and HIV infection were compared by perceived treatment assignment, actual treatment assignment, and perceived PrEP efficacy.
Overall, acute HIV infection and syphilis decreased during follow-up. Compared with participants believing they were receiving placebo, participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF reported more receptive anal intercourse partners prior to initiating drug (12.8 vs. 7.7, P = 0.04). Belief in receiving FTC/TDF was not associated with an increase in receptive anal intercourse with no condom (ncRAI) from baseline through follow-up (risk ratio [RR] 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.6–1.4; P = 0.75), nor with a decrease after stopping study drug (RR 0.8, 95% CI: 0.5–1.3; P = 0.46). In the placebo arm, there were trends toward lower HIV incidence among participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.8, 95% CI: 0.4–1.8; P = 0.26) and also believing it was highly effective (IRR 0.5, 95% CI: 0.1–1.7; P = 0.12).
There was no evidence of sexual risk compensation in iPrEx. Participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF had more partners prior to initiating drug, suggesting that risk behavior was not a consequence of PrEP use.
Background. Transmitted human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) drug resistance (TDR) mutations can become replaced over time by emerging wild-type viral variants with improved fitness. The impact of class-specific mutations on this rate of mutation replacement is uncertain.
Methods. We studied participants with acute and/or early HIV infection and TDR in 2 cohorts (San Francisco, California, and São Paulo, Brazil). We followed baseline mutations longitudinally and compared replacement rates between mutation classes with use of a parametric proportional hazards model.
Results. Among 75 individuals with 195 TDR mutations, M184V/I became undetectable markedly faster than did nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) mutations (hazard ratio, 77.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 14.7–408.2; P < .0001), while protease inhibitor and NNRTI replacement rates were similar. Higher plasma HIV-1 RNA level predicted faster mutation replacement, but this was not statistically significant (hazard ratio, 1.71 log10 copies/mL; 95% CI, .90–3.25 log10 copies/mL; P = .11). We found substantial person-to-person variability in mutation replacement rates not accounted for by viral load or mutation class (P < .0001).
Conclusions. The rapid replacement of M184V/I mutations is consistent with known fitness costs. The long-term persistence of NNRTI and protease inhibitor mutations suggests a risk for person-to-person propagation. Host and/or viral factors not accounted for by viral load or mutation class are likely influencing mutation replacement and warrant further study.
The use of antiretroviral medications in HIV-negative individuals as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a promising approach to prevent HIV infection. Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine exhibit desirable properties for PrEP including: favourable pharmacokinetics that support infrequent dosing; few major drug-drug or drug-food interactions; an excellent clinical safety record; and pre-clinical evidence for efficacy. Several large, randomized, controlled clinical trials are evaluating the safety and efficacy of TDF and emtricitabine for this new indication. A thorough understanding of variability in drug response will help determine future investigations in the field and/or implementation into clinical care. Because tenofovir and emtricitabine are nucleos(t)ide analogues, the HIV prevention and toxicity effects depend on the triphosphate analogue formed intracellularly. This review identifies important cellular pharmacology considerations for tenofovir and emtricitabine, which include drug penetration into relevant tissues and cell types, race/ethnicity/pharmacogenetics, gender, cellular activation state and appropriate episodic or alternative dosing strategies based on pharmacokinetic principles. The current state of knowledge in these areas is summarized and the future utility of intracellular pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics for the PrEP field is discussed.
clinical pharmacology; intracellular pharmacology; pharmacokinetics; pharmacodynamics; pharmacogenomics; nucleoside analogue pharmacology
HIV-1 acute infection, recent infection and transmitted drug resistance screening was integrated into voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT) services to enhance the existing surveillance program in San Francisco. This study describes newly-diagnosed HIV cases and characterizes correlates associated with infection.
A consecutive sample of persons presenting for HIV VCT at the municipal sexually transmitted infections (STI) clinic from 2004 to 2006 (N = 9,868) were evaluated by standard enzyme-linked immunoassays (EIA). HIV antibody-positive specimens were characterized as recent infections using a less-sensitive EIA. HIV-RNA pooled testing was performed on HIV antibody-negative specimens to identify acute infections. HIV antibody-positive and acute infection specimens were evaluated for drug resistance by sequence analysis. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to evaluate associations. The 380 newly-diagnosed HIV cases included 29 acute infections, 128 recent infections, and 47 drug-resistant cases, with no significant increases or decreases in prevalence over the three years studied. HIV-1 transmitted drug resistance prevalence was 11.0% in 2004, 13.4% in 2005 and 14.9% in 2006 (p = 0.36). Resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) was the most common pattern detected, present in 28 cases of resistance (59.6%). Among MSM, recent infection was associated with amphetamine use (AOR = 2.67; p<0.001), unprotected anal intercourse (AOR = 2.27; p<0.001), sex with a known HIV-infected partner (AOR = 1.64; p = 0.02), and history of gonorrhea (AOR = 1.62; p = 0.03).
New HIV diagnoses, recent infections, acute infections and transmitted drug resistance prevalence remained stable between 2004 and 2006. Resistance to NNRTI comprised more than half of the drug-resistant cases, a worrisome finding given its role as the backbone of first-line antiretroviral therapy in San Francisco as well as worldwide. The integration of HIV-1 drug resistance, recent infection, and acute infection testing should be considered for existing HIV/STI surveillance and prevention activities, particularly in an era of enhanced efforts for early diagnosis and treatment.
Antiretroviral chemoprophylaxis before exposure is a promising approach for the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition.
We randomly assigned 2499 HIV-seronegative men or transgender women who have sex with men to receive a combination of two oral antiretroviral drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC–TDF), or placebo once daily. All subjects received HIV testing, risk-reduction counseling, condoms, and management of sexually transmitted infections.
The study subjects were followed for 3324 person-years (median, 1.2 years; maximum, 2.8 years). Of these subjects, 10 were found to have been infected with HIV at enrollment, and 100 became infected during follow-up (36 in the FTC–TDF group and 64 in the placebo group), indicating a 44% reduction in the incidence of HIV (95% confidence interval, 15 to 63; P = 0.005). In the FTC–TDF group, the study drug was detected in 22 of 43 of seronegative subjects (51%) and in 3 of 34 HIV-infected subjects (9%) (P<0.001). Nausea was reported more frequently during the first 4 weeks in the FTC–TDF group than in the placebo group (P<0.001). The two groups had similar rates of serious adverse events (P = 0.57).
Oral FTC–TDF provided protection against the acquisition of HIV infection among the subjects. Detectable blood levels strongly correlated with the prophylactic effect. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00458393.)
Transmitted HIV-1 drug resistance (TDR) is an ongoing public health problem, representing 10–20% of new HIV infections in many geographic areas. TDR usually arises from two main sources: individuals on antiretroviral therapy (ART) who are failing to achieve virologic suppression, and individuals who acquired TDR and transmit it while still ART-naïve. TDR rates can be impacted when novel antiretroviral medications are introduced that allow for greater virologic suppression of source patients. Although several new HIV medications were introduced starting in late 2007, including raltegravir, maraviroc, and etravirine, it is not known whether the prevalence of TDR was subsequently affected in 2008–2009.
We performed population sequence genotyping on individuals who were diagnosed with acute or early HIV (<6 months duration) and who enrolled in the Options Project, a prospective cohort, between 2002 and 2009. We used logistic regression to compare the odds of acquiring drug-resistant HIV before versus after the arrival of new ART (2005–2007 vs. 2008–2009). From 2003–2007, TDR rose from 7% to 24%. Prevalence of TDR was then 15% in 2008 and in 2009. While the odds of acquiring TDR were lower in 2008–2009 compared to 2005–2007, this was not statistically significant (odds ratio 0.65, 95% CI 0.31–1.38; p = 0.27).
Our study suggests that transmitted drug resistance rose from 2003–2007, but this upward trend did not continue in 2008 and 2009. Nevertheless, the TDR prevalence in 2008–2009 remained substantial, emphasizing that improved management strategies for drug-resistant HIV are needed if TDR is to be further reduced. Continued surveillance for TDR will be important in understanding the full impact of new antiretroviral medications.
After disappointing results from all efficacy trials conducted to date, the field of microbicides research now faces substantial challenges. Poor coordination among interested parties and the choice of nonvalidated scientific targets for phase III studies have hampered progress and created mistrust about the use of microbicides as a method to prevent HIV-1 sexual transmission. Although new promising strategies are available, there will need to be serious reappraisals of how decisions are made to advance the next generations of candidates into clinical trials, and the use of appropriate animal models in this process will be critical.
Surveillance data on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and behavioral characteristics identified in studies of the risk of seroconversion are often used as to track sexual behaviors that spread HIV. However, such analyses can be confounded by “seroadaptation”—the restriction of unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), especially unprotected insertive UAI, to seroconcordant partnerships.
We utilized sexual network methodology and repeated-measures statistics to test the hypothesis that seroadaptive strategies reduce the risk of HIV transmission despite numerous partnerships and frequent UAI.
In a prospective cohort study of HIV superinfection including 168 HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM), we found extensive seroadaptation. UAI was 15.5 times more likely to occur with a positive partner than a negative one (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.1–26.4). Receptive UAI was 4.3 times more likely in seroconcordant partnerships than with negative partners (95% CI, 2.8–6.6), but insertive UAI was 13.6 times more likely with positives (95% CI, 7.2–25.6). Our estimates suggest that seroadaptation reduced HIV transmissions by 98%.
Potentially effective HIV prevention strategies, such as seroadaptation, have evolved in communities of MSM before they have been recognized in research or discussed in the public health forum. Thus, to be informative, studies of HIV risk must be designed to assess seroadaptive behaviors rather than be limited to individual characteristics, unprotected intercourse, and numbers of partners. STI surveillance is not an effective indicator of trends in HIV incidence where there are strong patterns of seroadaptation.
Drug concentrations associated with protection from HIV-1 acquisition have not been determined. This study evaluated drug concentrations among men who have sex with men in a substudy of the iPrEx trial,(1) a randomized placebo controlled trial of daily oral emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Any detectable drug in blood plasma and viably cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (vPBMCs) was less frequent in HIV-infected cases at the visit when HIV was first discovered compared with controls at the matched time point of the study (8% vs 44%, P<0.001) and in the 90 days prior to that visit (11% vs 51%, P<0.001). An intracellular tenofovir-diphosphate (TFV-DP) concentration of 16 fmol per million vPBMCs was associated with a 90% reduction in HIV acquisition relative to the placebo arm. Directly observed dosing in a separate study, STRAND, yielded TFV-DP concentrations that, when analyzed with this iPrEx model, corresponded with HIV-1 risk reduction of 76% for 2 doses per week, 96% for 4 doses per week, 99% for 7 doses per week. Prophylactic benefits were observed over a range of doses and drug concentrations, suggesting ways to optimize PrEP regimens for this population.
Unprotected sexual intercourse between individuals who are both infected with HIV-1 can lead to exposure to their partner's virus, and potentially to super-infection. However, the immunological consequences of continued exposure to HIV-1 by individuals already infected, has to our knowledge never been reported. We measured T cell responses in 49 HIV-1 infected individuals who were on antiretroviral therapy with suppressed viral loads. All the individuals were in a long-term sexual partnership with another HIV-1 infected individual, who was either also on HAART and suppressing their viral loads, or viremic (>9000 copies/ml). T cell responses to HIV-1 epitopes were measured directly ex-vivo by the IFN-γ enzyme linked immuno-spot assay and by cytokine flow cytometry. Sexual exposure data was generated from questionnaires given to both individuals within each partnership. Individuals who continued to have regular sexual contact with a HIV-1 infected viremic partner had significantly higher frequencies of HIV-1-specific T cell responses, compared to individuals with aviremic partners. Strikingly, the magnitude of the HIV-1-specific T cell response correlated strongly with the level and route of exposure. Responses consisted of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subsets. Longitudinally, decreases in exposure were mirrored by a lower T cell response. However, no evidence for systemic super-infection was found in any of the individuals. Continued sexual exposure to exogenous HIV-1 was associated with increased HIV-1-specific T cell responses, in the absence of systemic super-infection, and correlated with the level and type of exposure.
Serosorting, the practice of seeking to engage in unprotected sexual activities only with partners who are of the same HIV-1 status, is a growing trend. Unprotected sexual intercourse between two HIV-1 infected individuals can lead to consequences such as HIV-1 super-infection. However, continued exposure to HIV-1 may also have an important influence on the immune response. Here, we explored this influence in a cohort of HIV-1 infected individuals who were in long-term partnerships with other HIV-1 infected individuals. We found that individuals, who regularly engaged in unprotected receptive sexual intercourse with an HIV-1 infected viremic partner, displayed higher T cell responses to HIV proteins compared to those who were not regularly exposed to a viremic partner. None of the individuals within this study showed evidence of systemic super-infection. Exposure had limited impact on general activation or poly-functionality. These results are clearly of importance for HIV-1 infected individuals who chose to engage in unprotected sexual activity with other HIV-1 infected individuals. These data also reveal a more general mechanism that occurs in infectious diseases: immune responses to chronic viruses are influenced not only by the virus within the host, but also by exposure to the virus from without.
Little is known about the degree to which widespread use of antiretroviral therapy in a community reduces uninfected individuals’ risk of acquiring HIV. We estimated the degree to which the probability of HIV infection from an infected partner (the infectivity) declined following the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in San Francisco.
Homosexual men from the San Francisco Young Men’s Health Study, who were initially uninfected with HIV, were asked about sexual practices, and tested for HIV antibodies at each of four follow-up visits during a 6-year period spanning the advent of widespread use of HAART (1994 to 1999).
We estimated the infectivity of HIV (per-partnership probability of transmission from an infected partner) using a probabilistic risk model based on observed incident infections and self-reported sexual risk behavior, and tested the hypothesis that infectivity was the same before and after HAART was introduced.
A total of 534 homosexual men were evaluated. Decreasing trends in HIV seroincidence were observed despite increases in reported number of unprotected receptive anal intercourse partners. Conservatively assuming a constant prevalence of HIV infection between 1994 and 1999, HIV infectivity decreased from 0.120 prior to widespread use of HAART, to 0.048 after the widespread use of HAART – a decline of 60% (P = 0.028).
Use of HAART by infected persons in a community appears to reduce their infectiousness and therefore may provide an important HIV prevention tool.
HIV; infectivity; transmission; highly active antiretroviral therapy; epidemiology; homosexual men; statistics
The evolutionary success of primate lentiviruses reflects their high capacity to mutate and adapt to new host species, immune responses within individual hosts, and, in recent years, antiviral drugs. APOBEC3G (A3G) and APOBEC3F (A3F) are host cell DNA-editing enzymes that induce extensive HIV-1 mutation that severely attenuates viral replication. The HIV-1 virion infectivity factor (Vif), expressed in vivo, counteracts the antiviral activity of A3G and A3F by inducing their degradation. Other APOBECs may contribute more to viral diversity by inducing less extensive mutations allowing viral replication to persist. Here we show that in APOBEC3C (A3C)-expressing cells infected with the patient-derived HIV-1 molecular clones 210WW, 210WM, 210MW, and 210MM, and the lab-adapted molecular clone LAI, viral G-to-A mutations were detected in the presence of Vif expression. Mutations occurred primarily in the GA context and were relatively infrequent, thereby allowing for spreading infection. The mutations were absent in cells lacking A3C but were induced after transient expression of A3C in the infected target cell. Inhibiting endogenous A3C by RNA interference in Magi cells prevented the viral mutations. Thus, A3C is necessary and sufficient for G-to-A mutations in some HIV-1 strains. A3C-induced mutations occur at levels that allow replication to persist and may therefore contribute to viral diversity. Developing drugs that inhibit A3C may be a novel strategy for delaying viral escape from immune or antiretroviral inhibition.
HIV has shown a chameleon-like nature, always changing to adapt to its environment. Defining the factors that drive and regulate genetic changes in HIV over time is key to understanding how HIV causes disease and escapes from the body's immune responses and drug treatment. The diversity of HIV has implications for the development of effective drugs and for fostering better immune responses. In this study, we showed that a human protein, called APOBEC3C (A3C), could induce certain mutations in some HIV-1 strains, including those derived from a patient who had developed rapid drug resistance. Eliminating the expression of this protein prevented the mutations in two different types of cells. Furthermore, short-term A3C expression was sufficient to cause mutation. We conclude that A3C is necessary and sufficient to induce signature mutations in HIV-1. A3C-induced mutations may provide potential benefit for the virus if the mutation rate is low enough such that the majority of viruses are able to replicate, while accumulating a limited number of novel mutations that may allow the virus to survive in the face of antiviral drugs or immune responses.
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) viral protein R (Vpr) causes cell cycle arrest in G2. Vpr-expressing cells display the hallmarks of certain forms of DNA damage, specifically activation of the ataxia telangiectasia mutated and Rad3-related kinase, ATR. However, evidence that Vpr function is relevant in vivo or in the context of viral infection is still lacking. In the present study, we demonstrate that HIV-1 infection of primary, human CD4+ lymphocytes causes G2 arrest in a Vpr-dependent manner and that this response requires ATR, as shown by RNA interference. The event leading to ATR activation in CD4+ lymphocytes is the accumulation of replication protein A in nuclear foci, an indication that Vpr likely induces stalling of replication forks. Primary macrophages are refractory to ATR activation by Vpr, a finding that is consistent with the lack of detectable ATR, Rad17, and Chk1 protein expression in these nondividing cells. These observations begin to explain the remarkable resilience of macrophages to HIV-1-induced cytopathicity. To study the in vivo consequences of Vpr function, we isolated CD4+ lymphocytes from HIV-1-infected individuals and interrogated the cell cycle status of anti-p24Gag-immunoreactive cells. We report that infected cells in vivo display an aberrant cell cycle profile whereby a majority of cells have a 4N DNA content, consistent with the onset of G2 arrest.
The decrease in the proportion of drug resistance among newly infected HIV-1 patients may signal a worsening of the epidemic.
Observed declines in drug resistance to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors among persons recently infected with HIV-1 in monitored subpopulations can be interpreted as a positive sign and lead public health officials to decrease efforts towards HIV prevention. By means of a mathematical model, we identified 3 processes that can account for the observed decline: increase in high-risk behavior, decrease in proportion of acutely infected persons whose conditions are treated, and change in treatment efficacy. These processes, singly or in combination, can lead to increases or decreases in disease and drug-resistance prevalence in the general population. We discuss the most appropriate public health response under each scenario and emphasize how further data collection and analyses are required to more reliably evaluate the observed time trends and the relative importance of forces shaping the epidemic. Our study highlights how drug resistance markers can be used as epidemiologic sentinels to devise public health solutions.
acute infection; drug resistance; epidemiology; HIV; infectious disease; mathematical model; population dynamics; prevalence; primary infection; transmission
Approaches to limiting exposure to antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs are an active area of HIV therapy research. Here we present longitudinal follow-up of a randomized, open-label, single-center study of the immune, viral, and safety outcomes of structured therapy interruptions (TIs) in patients with chronically suppressed HIV-1 infection as compared to equal follow-up of patients on continuous therapy and including a final therapy interruption in both arms.
Methods and Findings
Forty-two chronically HIV-infected patients on suppressive ART with CD4 counts higher than 400 were randomized 1:1 to either (1) three successive fixed TIs of 2, 4, and 6 wk, with intervening resumption of therapy with resuppression for 4 wk before subsequent interruption, or (2) 40 wk of continuous therapy, with a final open-ended TI in both treatment groups. Main outcome was analysis of the time to viral rebound (>5,000 copies/ml) during the open-ended TI. Secondary outcomes included study-defined safety criteria, viral resistance, therapy failure, and retention of immune reconstitution.
There was no difference between the groups in time to viral rebound during the open-ended TI (continuous therapy/single TI, median [interquartile range] = 4 [1–8] wk, n = 21; repeated TI, median [interquartile range] = 5 [4–8] wk, n = 21; p = 0.36). No differences in study-related adverse events, viral set point at 12 or 20 wk of open-ended interruption, viral resistance or therapy failure, retention of CD4 T cell numbers on ART, or retention of lymphoproliferative recall antigen responses were noted between groups. Importantly, resistance detected shortly after initial viremia following the open-ended TI did not result in a lack of resuppression to less than 50 copies/ml after reinitiation of the same drug regimen.
Cycles of 2- to 6-wk time-fixed TIs in patients with suppressed HIV infection failed to confer a clinically significant benefit with regard to viral suppression off ART. Also, secondary analysis showed no difference between the two strategies in terms of safety, retention of immune reconstitution, and clinical therapy failure. Based on these findings, we suggest that further clinical research on the long-term consequences of TI strategies to decrease drug exposure is warranted.
Structured treatment interruptions, or "drug holidays", in HIV patients yield no clinical benefits but don't lead to short- term treatment failure either
Evidence for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) superinfection was sought among 37 HIV-1-positive street-recruited active injection drug users (IDUs) from the San Francisco Bay area. HIV-1 sequences from pairs of samples collected 1 to 12 years apart, spanning a total of 215 years of exposure, were generated at p17 gag, the V3-V5 region of env, and/or the first exon of tat and phylogenetically analyzed. No evidence of HIV-1 superinfection was detected in which a highly divergent HIV-1 variant emerged at a frequency >20% of the serum viral quasispecies. Based on the reported risk behavior of the IDUs and the HIV-1 incidence in uninfected subjects in the same cohort, a total of 3.4 new infections would have been expected if existing infection conferred no protection from superinfection. Adjusted for risk behaviors, the estimated relative risk of superinfection compared with initial infection was therefore 0.0 (95% confidence interval, 0.00, 0.79; P = 0.02), indicating that existing infection conferred a statistically significant level of protection against superinfection with an HIV-1 strain of the same subtype, which was between 21 and 100%.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific CD8+ T-lymphocyte pressure can lead to the development of viral escape mutants, with consequent loss of immune control. Antiretroviral drugs also exert selection pressures on HIV, leading to the emergence of drug resistance mutations and increased levels of viral replication. We have determined a minimal epitope of HIV protease, amino acids 76 to 84, towards which a CD8+ T-lymphocyte response is directed. This epitope, which is HLA-A2 restricted, includes two amino acids that commonly mutate (V82A and I84V) in the face of protease inhibitor therapy. Among 29 HIV-infected patients who were treated with protease inhibitors and who had developed resistance to these drugs, we show that the wild-type PR82V76-84 epitope is commonly recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in HLA-A2-positive patients and that the CTL directed to this epitope are of high avidity. In contrast, the mutant PR82A76-84 epitope is generally not recognized by wild-type-specific CTL, or when recognized it is of low to moderate avidity, suggesting that the protease inhibitor-selected V82A mutation acts both as a CTL and protease inhibitor escape mutant. Paradoxically, the absence of a mutation at position 82 was associated with the presence of a high-avidity CD8+ T-cell response to the wild-type virus sequence. Our results indicate that both HIV type 1-specific CD8+ T cells and antiretroviral drugs provide complex pressures on the same amino acid sequence of the HIV protease gene and, thus, can influence viral sequence evolution.
Continued use of antiretroviral therapy despite the emergence of drug-resistant human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been associated with the durable maintenance of plasma HIV RNA levels below pretherapy levels. The factors that may account for this partial control of viral replication were assessed in a longitudinal observational study of 20 HIV-infected adults who remained on a stable protease inhibitor-based regimen despite ongoing viral replication (plasma HIV RNA levels consistently >500 copies/ml). Longitudinal plasma samples (n = 248) were assayed for drug susceptibility and viral replication capacity (measured by using a single-cycle recombinant-virus assay). The initial treatment-mediated decrease in plasma viremia was directly proportional to the reduction in replicative capacity (P = 0.01). Early virologic rebound was associated the emergence of a virus population exhibiting increased protease inhibitor phenotypic resistance, while replicative capacity remained low. During long-term virologic failure, plasma HIV RNA levels often remained stable or increased slowly, while phenotypic resistance continued to increase and replicative capacity decreased slowly. The emergence of primary genotypic mutations within protease (particularly V82A, I84V, and L90M) was temporally associated with increasing phenotypic resistance and decreasing replicative capacity, while the emergence of secondary mutations within protease was associated with more-gradual changes in both phenotypic resistance and replicative capacity. We conclude that HIV may be constrained in its ability to become both highly resistant and highly fit and that this may contribute to the continued partial suppression of plasma HIV RNA levels that is observed in some patients with drug-resistant viremia.
The development of a permissive small animal model for the study of human immunodeficiency virus type (HIV)-1 pathogenesis and the testing of antiviral strategies has been hampered by the inability of HIV-1 to infect primary rodent cells productively. In this study, we explored transgenic rats expressing the HIV-1 receptor complex as a susceptible host. Rats transgenic for human CD4 (hCD4) and the human chemokine receptor CCR5 (hCCR5) were generated that express the transgenes in CD4+ T lymphocytes, macrophages, and microglia. In ex vivo cultures, CD4+ T lymphocytes, macrophages, and microglia from hCD4/hCCR5 transgenic rats were highly susceptible to infection by HIV-1 R5 viruses leading to expression of abundant levels of early HIV-1 gene products comparable to those found in human reference cultures. Primary rat macrophages and microglia, but not lymphocytes, from double-transgenic rats could be productively infected by various recombinant and primary R5 strains of HIV-1. Moreover, after systemic challenge with HIV-1, lymphatic organs from hCD4/hCCR5 transgenic rats contained episomal 2–long terminal repeat (LTR) circles, integrated provirus, and early viral gene products, demonstrating susceptibility to HIV-1 in vivo. Transgenic rats also displayed a low-level plasma viremia early in infection. Thus, transgenic rats expressing the appropriate human receptor complex are promising candidates for a small animal model of HIV-1 infection.
HIV-1; transgenic rats; CD4; CCR5; macrophages
Vα24 natural killer T (NKT) cells are innate immune cells involved in regulation of immune tolerance, autoimmunity, and tumor immunity. However, the effect of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection on these cells is unknown. Here, we report that the Vα24 NKT cells can be subdivided into CD4+ or CD4− subsets that differ in their expression of the homing receptors CD62L and CD11a. Furthermore, both CD4+ and CD4− NKT cells frequently express both CXCR4 and CCR5 HIV coreceptors. We find that the numbers of NKT cells are reduced in HIV-infected subjects with uncontrolled viremia and marked CD4+ T-cell depletion. The number of CD4+ NKT cells is inversely correlated with HIV load, indicating depletion of this subset. In contrast, CD4− NKT-cell numbers are unaffected in subjects with high viral loads. HIV infection experiments in vitro show preferential depletion of CD4+ NKT cells relative to regular CD4+ T cells, in particular with virus that uses the CCR5 coreceptor. Thus, HIV infection causes a selective loss of CD4+ lymph node homing (CD62L+) NKT cells, with consequent skewing of the NKT-cell compartment to a predominantly CD4− CD62L− phenotype. These data indicate that the key immunoregulatory NKT-cell compartment is compromised in HIV-1-infected patients.
Epidemiological studies have shown that human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) is markedly less pathogenic than HIV-1 in vivo. Individuals infected with HIV-2 exhibit a remarkably slow rate of disease development, and these clinical properties have been attributed presumptively to an “attenuated” phenotype of HIV-2 itself. Here, we investigated the impact of coreceptor usage on the cytopathicity of HIV-2 and compared its pathogenic potential with that of HIV-1 in a unique human lymphoid histoculture model. We found that HIV-2 strains, as well as closely related simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIV), displayed mildly or highly aggressive cytopathic phenotypes depending on their abilities to use the coreceptor CCR5 or CXCR4, respectively. A side-by-side comparison of primary X4 HIV-1 and HIV-2 strains revealed similar, high degrees of cytopathicity induced by both HIV types. Furthermore, we found that HIV-2 coreceptor specificity for CCR5 and CXCR4 determined the target cell population for T-cell depletion in lymphoid tissue. Finally, utilization of the alternate coreceptors BOB and Bonzo did not significantly increase the cytopathic properties of HIV-2. These findings demonstrate that coreceptor preference is a key regulator of target cell specificity and the cytopathic potential of HIV-2, with indistinguishable rules compared with HIV-1. Moreover, HIV-2 strains are not characterized by an intrinsically lower cytopathicity than HIV-1 strains. Therefore, direct cytopathic potential per se does not explain the unique behavior of HIV-2 in people, highlighting that other unknown factors need to be elucidated as the basis for their lesser virulence in vivo.