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author:("ziegler, Teri")
1.  The Immunologic Effects of Mesalamine in Treated HIV-Infected Individuals with Incomplete CD4+ T Cell Recovery: A Randomized Crossover Trial 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e116306.
The anti-inflammatory agent, mesalamine (5-aminosalicylic acid) has been shown to decrease mucosal inflammation in ulcerative colitis. The effect of mesalamine in HIV-infected individuals, who exhibit abnormal mucosal immune activation and microbial translocation (MT), has not been established in a placebo-controlled trial. We randomized 33 HIV-infected subjects with CD4 counts <350 cells/mm3 and plasma HIV RNA levels <40 copies/ml on antiretroviral therapy (ART) to add mesalamine vs. placebo to their existing regimen for 12 weeks followed by a 12 week crossover to the other arm. Compared to placebo-treated subjects, mesalamine-treated subjects did not experience any significant change in the percent CD38+HLA-DR+ peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells at week 12 (P  = 0.38 and P  = 0.63, respectively), or in the CD4+ T cell count at week 12 (P  = 0.83). The percent CD38+HLA-DR+ CD4+ and CD8+ T cells also did not change significantly in rectal tissue (P  = 0.86, P  = 0.84, respectively). During the period of mesalamine administration, plasma sCD14, IL-6, D-dimer, and kynurenine to tryptophan ratio were not changed significantly at week 12 and were similarly unchanged at week 24. This study suggests that, at least under the conditions studied, the persistent immune activation associated with HIV infection is not impacted by the anti-inflammatory effects of mesalamine.
Trial Registration NCT01090102
PMCID: PMC4283685  PMID: 25545673
2.  Role of MicroRNA Modulation in the Interferon-α/Ribavirin Suppression of HIV-1 In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109220.
Interferon-α (IFN-α) treatment suppresses HIV-1 viremia and reduces the size of the HIV-1 latent reservoir. Therefore, investigation of the molecular and immunologic effects of IFN-α may provide insights that contribute to the development of novel prophylactic, therapeutic and curative strategies for HIV-1 infection. In this study, we hypothesized that microRNAs (miRNAs) contribute to the IFN-α-mediated suppression of HIV-1. To inform the development of novel miRNA-based antiretroviral strategies, we investigated the effects of exogenous IFN-α treatment on global miRNA expression profile, HIV-1 viremia, and potential regulatory networks between miRNAs and cell-intrinsic anti-HIV-1 host factors in vivo.
Global miRNA expression was examined in longitudinal PBMC samples obtained from seven HIV/HCV-coinfected, antiretroviral therapy-naïve individuals before, during, and after pegylated interferon-α/ribavirin therapy (IFN-α/RBV). We implemented novel hybrid computational-empirical approaches to characterize regulatory networks between miRNAs and anti-HIV-1 host restriction factors.
miR-422a was the only miRNA significantly modulated by IFN-α/RBV in vivo (p<0.0001, paired t test; FDR<0.037). Our interactome mapping revealed extensive regulatory involvement of miR-422a in p53-dependent apoptotic and pyroptotic pathways. Based on sequence homology and inverse expression relationships, 29 unique miRNAs may regulate anti-HIV-1 restriction factor expression in vivo.
The specific reduction of miR-422a is associated with exogenous IFN-α treatment, and likely contributes to the IFN-α suppression of HIV-1 through the enhancement of anti-HIV-1 restriction factor expression and regulation of genes involved in programmed cell death. Moreover, our regulatory network analysis presents additional candidate miRNAs that may be targeted to enhance anti-HIV-1 restriction factor expression in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4183579  PMID: 25275557
3.  Association of Cervical Biopsy with HIV Type 1 Genital Shedding Among Women on Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2013;29(7):1000-1005.
HIV-1 genital shedding is associated with increased HIV-1 transmission risk. Inflammation and ulceration are associated with increased shedding, while highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has been shown to have a protective effect. We sought to examine the impact of cervical biopsies, a routine component of cervical cancer screening, on HIV-1 genital RNA levels in HIV-infected women on HAART. We enrolled HIV-1-infected women undergoing cervical biopsy for diagnosis of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2/3 in this prospective cohort study. All were stable on HAART for at least 3 months. Clinical and demographic information as well as plasma HIV-1 viral load were collected at the baseline visit. Specimens for cervical HIV-1 RNA were collected immediately prior to biopsy, and 2 and 7 days afterward. Quantitative PCR determined HIV-1 concentration in cervical specimens at each time point to a lower limit of detection of 40 copies/specimen. Among the 30 participants, five (16.6%) women had detectable cervical HIV-1 RNA at baseline, of whom four (80%) had detectable HIV-1 RNA after cervical biopsy, with no significant increase in viral load in the follow-up specimens. Only one woman (3.3%) with undetectable baseline cervical HIV-1 RNA had detection postbiopsy. Detectable plasma HIV-1 RNA was the only factor associated with baseline cervical HIV-1 RNA. In women on HAART, an increase in cervical HIV-1 RNA detection or concentration was not associated with cervical biopsy. These findings help provide safety data regarding cervical cancer screening and diagnosis in HIV-infected women and inform postprocedure counseling.
PMCID: PMC3685685  PMID: 23594240
4.  Is there an association between HIV-1 genital shedding and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2/3 among women on antiretroviral therapy? 
Given the high prevalence of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 2/3 among HIV-infected women, we sought to examine the relationship between CIN 2/3 and HIV-1 genital shedding among women on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Materials and Methods
Paired plasma and cervical wick specimens for HIV-1 RNA measurements were obtained from 44 HIV-infected women (cases) with biopsy-confirmed CIN2/3 and 44 age-matched HIV-infected women with normal cervical findings on colposcopy (controls). All subjects tested negative for sexually transmitted infections and had been stable on HAART for at least three months. HIV-1 viral load was measured in both blood and cervical specimens using commercial real-time PCR assays.
CIN2/3 was not significantly associated with the detection or magnitude of plasma or cervical HIV-1 RNA shedding. HIV was detected in the plasma in 10 (23%) cases and 10 (25%) controls (OR=1.0 95% CI 0.33–3.1). Cervical HIV-1 was detected in 6 (13.6%) cases and 9 (20.4%) controls (OR= 0.61 95% CI=0.20–1.90). Mean HIV-1 concentration in cervical secretions among women with CIN2/3 who shed was 2.93 log10 copies versus 2.72 among controls (p=0.65).
Among women on HAART, we found no relationship between CIN 2/3 and HIV-1 genital shedding.
PMCID: PMC3690152  PMID: 23486070
HIV-1 Genital Shedding; Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy; Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia 2/3
5.  Effects of Alpha Interferon Treatment on Intrinsic Anti-HIV-1 Immunity In Vivo 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(1):763-767.
Alpha interferon (IFN-α) suppresses human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication in vitro by inducing cell-intrinsic retroviral restriction mechanisms. We investigated the effects of IFN-α/ribavirin (IFN-α/riba) treatment on 34 anti-HIV-1 restriction factors in vivo. Expression of several anti-HIV-1 restriction factors was significantly induced by IFN-α/riba in HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV)-coinfected individuals. Fold induction of cumulative restriction factor expression in CD4+ T cells was significantly correlated with viral load reduction during IFN-α/riba treatment (r2 = 0.649; P < 0.016). Exogenous IFN-α induces supraphysiologic restriction factor expression associated with a pronounced decrease in HIV-1 viremia.
PMCID: PMC3911728  PMID: 24155399
6.  HIV-1 Drug Resistance in the iPrEx Preexposure Prophylaxis Trial 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2014;210(8):1217-1227.
Background. The iPrEx study demonstrated that combination oral emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC/TDF) as preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) protects against HIV acquisition in men who have sex with men and transgender women. Selection for drug resistance could offset PrEP benefits.
Methods. Phenotypic and genotypic clinical resistance assays characterized major drug resistant mutations. Minor variants with FTC/TDF mutations K65R, K70E, M184V/I were measured using 454 deep sequencing and a novel allele-specific polymerase chain reaction (AS-PCR) diagnostic tolerant to sequence heterogeneity.
Results. Control of primer-binding site heterogeneity resulted in improved accuracy of minor variant measurements by AS-PCR. Of the 48 on-study infections randomized to FTC/TDF, none showed FTC/TDF mutations by clinical assays despite detectable drug levels in 8 participants. Two randomized to FTC/TDF had minor variant M184I detected at 0.53% by AS-PCR or 0.75% by deep sequencing, only 1 of which had low but detectable drug levels. Among those with acute infection at randomization to FTC/TDF, M184V or I mutations that were predominant at seroconversion waned to background levels within 24 weeks after discontinuing drug.
Conclusions. Drug resistance was rare in iPrEx on-study FTC/TDF-randomized seroconverters, and only as low-frequency minor variants. FTC resistance among those initiating PrEP with acute infection waned rapidly after drug discontinuation.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00458393.
PMCID: PMC4176446  PMID: 24740633
454 deep sequencing; AS-PCR; drug resistance; HIV-1; minor variant; preexposure prophylaxis; PrEP; FTC/TDF
7.  Targeting of Conserved Gag-Epitopes in Early HIV Infection Is Associated with Lower Plasma Viral Load and Slower CD4+ T Cell Depletion 
We aimed to investigate whether the character of the immunodominant HIV-Gag peptide (variable or conserved) targeted by CD8+ T cells in early HIV infection would influence the quality and quantity of T cell responses, and whether this would affect the rate of disease progression. Treatment-naive HIV-infected study subjects within the OPTIONS cohort at the University of California, San Francisco, were monitored from an estimated 44 days postinfection for up to 6 years. CD8+ T cells responses targeting HLA-matched HIV-Gag-epitopes were identified and characterized by multicolor flow cytometry. The autologous HIV gag sequences were obtained. We demonstrate that patients targeting a conserved HIV-Gag-epitope in early infection maintained their epitope-specific CD8+ T cell response throughout the study period. Patients targeting a variable epitope showed decreased immune responses over time, although there was no limitation of the functional profile, and they were likely to target additional variable epitopes. Maintained immune responses to conserved epitopes were associated with no or limited sequence evolution within the targeted epitope. Patients with immune responses targeting conserved epitopes had a significantly lower median viral load over time compared to patients with responses targeting a variable epitope (0.63 log10 difference). Furthermore, the rate of CD4+ T cell decline was slower for subjects targeting a conserved epitope (0.85% per month) compared to subjects targeting a variable epitope (1.85% per month). Previous studies have shown that targeting of antigens based on specific HLA types is associated with a better disease course. In this study we show that categorizing epitopes based on their variability is associated with clinical outcome.
PMCID: PMC3581067  PMID: 23140171
8.  Assessment of Population-Based HIV RNA Levels in a Rural East African Setting Using a Fingerprick-Based Blood Collection Method 
Population-based human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RNA metrics can help estimate antiretroviral therapy effectiveness within a community. We developed a fingerprick-based viral load technique and measured population HIV RNA levels in a rural Ugandan community, providing the first report from a resource limited setting.
Background. Population-based human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA levels (viral load [VL]) are proposed metrics for antiretroviral therapy (ART) program effectiveness. We estimated population-based HIV RNA levels using a fingerprick-based approach in a rural Ugandan community implementing rapid ART scale-up.
Methods. A fingerprick-based HIV RNA measurement technique was validated against standard phlebotomy. This technique was deployed during a 5-day community-wide health campaign in a 6300-person community. Assessments included rapid HIV antibody testing, VL, and CD4+ T-cell count via fingerprick. We estimated population HIV RNA levels and the prevalence of undetectable RNA, assessed predictors of VL via linear regression, and mapped RNA levels within community geographic units.
Results. During the community-wide health campaign, 179 of 2282 adults (7.8%) and 10 of 1826 children (0.5%) tested seropositive for HIV. Fingerprick VL was determined in 174 of 189 HIV-positive persons (92%). The mean log(VL) was 3.67 log (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.50–3.83 log copies/mL), median VL was 2720 copies/mL (interquartile range, <486–38 120 copies/mL), and arithmetic mean VL was 64 064 copies/mL. Overall, 64 of 174 of individuals had undetectable RNA (37% [95% CI, 30%–44%]), 24% had VL 486–10 000; 25% had VL 10 001–100 000; and 15% had VL>100 000 copies/mL. Among participants taking ART, 83% had undetectable VL.
Conclusions. We developed and implemented a fingerprick VL testing method and provide the first report of population HIV RNA levels in Africa. In a rural Ugandan community experiencing ART scale-up, we found evidence of population-level ART effectiveness, but found a substantial population to be viremic, in need of ART, and at risk for transmission.
PMCID: PMC3552523  PMID: 23243180
population HIV-RNA levels; viral load; fingerprick; ART effectiveness; epidemiology
9.  Modification of the Abbott RealTime assay for detection of HIV-1 plasma RNA viral loads less than one copy per milliliter 
Journal of virological methods  2011;175(2):10.1016/j.jviromet.2011.04.015.
Although commercial tests are approved for detection of HIV-1 plasma viral loads ≥20 copies per milliliter (ml), only one specialized research assay has been reported to detect plasma viral loads as low as 1 copy/ml. This manuscript describes a method of concentrating HIV-1 virions from up to 30ml of plasma, which can be combined with a commercial viral load test to create a widely-available, reproducible assay for quantifying plasma HIV RNA levels less than 1 copy/ml. Using this pre-analytically modified assay, samples with a known level of 0.5 copy/ml were detected in 8 of 12 replicates (mean 0.47 copy/ml; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.14-0.81 copy/ml) and samples with a known level of 1.0 copy/ml were detected in 13 of 13 replicates (mean 1.96 copy/ml; 95% CI 1.42-2.50 copy/ml). By concentrating virus from 30ml of plasma, HIV RNA could be measured in 16 of 19 samples (84%) from 12 of 12 subjects (mean 2.77 copy/ml; 95% CI 0.86-4.68 copy/ml). The measured viral load correlated inversely (r= −0.78; p=0.028) with the total duration of viral suppression (viral load<40 copies/ml).
PMCID: PMC3827908  PMID: 21536073
HIV; plasma RNA; viral load; single copy; Abbott
10.  Expression profile of host restriction factors in HIV-1 elite controllers 
Retrovirology  2013;10:106.
Several host-encoded antiviral factors suppress HIV-1 replication in a cell-autonomous fashion in vitro. The relevance of these defenses to the control of HIV-1 in vivo remains to be elucidated. We hypothesized that cellular restriction of HIV-1 replication plays a significant role in the observed suppression of HIV-1 in "elite controllers", individuals who maintain undetectable levels of viremia in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART). We comprehensively compared the expression levels of 34 host restriction factors and cellular activation levels in CD4+ T cells and sorted T cell subsets between elite controllers, HIV-1-infected (untreated) non-controllers, ART-suppressed, and uninfected individuals.
Expression of schlafen 11, a codon usage-based inhibitor of HIV-1 protein synthesis, was significantly elevated in CD4+ T cells from elite controllers as compared to both non-controllers (p = 0.048) and ART-suppressed individuals (p = 0.024), with this effect most apparent in central memory CD4+ T cells. Schlafen 11 expression levels were comparable between controllers and uninfected individuals. Cumulative restriction factor expression was positively correlated with CD4+ T cell activation (r2 = 0.597, p < 0.0001), viral load (r2 = 0.34, p = 0.015), and expression of ISG15 (r2 = 0.73, p < 0.0001), a marker of interferon exposure. APOBEC3C, APOBEC3D, CTR9, TRIM26, and TRIM32 were elevated in elite controllers with respect to ART-suppressed individuals, while levels were comparable to uninfected individuals and non-controllers.
Host restriction factor expression typically scales with cellular activation levels. However, the elevated mRNA and protein expression of schlafen 11, despite low activation and viral load, violates the global pattern and may be a signature characteristic of HIV-1 elite control.
PMCID: PMC3827935  PMID: 24131498
Elite controllers; Intrinsic immunity; Retroviral restriction factors; APOBEC3; BST2/tetherin; TRIM; schlafen 11; p21; T cell activation
11.  Prospective Antiretroviral Treatment of Asymptomatic, HIV-1 Infected Controllers 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(10):e1003691.
The study of HIV-infected “controllers” who are able to maintain low levels of plasma HIV RNA in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) may provide insights for HIV cure and vaccine strategies. Despite maintaining very low levels of plasma viremia, controllers have elevated immune activation and accelerated atherosclerosis. However, the degree to which low-level replication contributes to these phenomena is not known. Sixteen asymptomatic controllers were prospectively treated with ART for 24 weeks. Controllers had a statistically significant decrease in ultrasensitive plasma and rectal HIV RNA levels with ART. Markers of T cell activation/dysfunction in blood and gut mucosa also decreased substantially with ART. Similar reductions were observed in the subset of “elite” controllers with pre-ART plasma HIV RNA levels below conventional assays (<40 copies/mL). These data confirm that HIV replication persists in controllers and contributes to a chronic inflammatory state. ART should be considered for these individuals ( NCT01025427).
Author Summary
HIV-infected “controllers” are rare individuals who are HIV-seropositive but are able to maintain low levels of plasma HIV RNA in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART). There has been intense interest in characterizing these unique individuals because they have been considered as a potential model for a “functional cure” of HIV. Previously, our group has shown that controllers have elevated levels of T cell activation and accelerated atherosclerosis, suggesting that very low levels of viral replication may lead to disproportionately high levels of immune activation. However, the degree to which viral replication contributes to these outcomes is not known. We therefore conducted the first, prospective study of ART initiation in a cohort of asymptomatic HIV-infected controllers, in order to determine the virologic and immunologic effects of treating controllers with ART. Controllers had a significant decreases in ultrasensitive plasma HIV RNA, rectal HIV RNA, and markers of T cell activation/dysfunction in blood and gut mucosa with ART. Similar reductions were observed in the subset of “elite” controllers with extremely low pre-ART plasma HIV RNA levels (<40 copies/mL). These data suggest that HIV replication persists in controllers and contributes to a chronic inflammatory state.
PMCID: PMC3795031  PMID: 24130489
12.  Central Nervous System Immune Activation Characterizes Primary Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 Infection Even in Participants With Minimal Cerebrospinal Fluid Viral Burden 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(5):753-760.
Background. Central nervous system (CNS) human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and immune activation lead to brain injury and neurological impairment. Although HIV enters the nervous system soon after transmission, the magnitude of infection and immunoactivation within the CNS during primary HIV infection (PHI) has not been characterized.
Methods. This cross-sectional study analyzed cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood from 96 participants with PHI and compared them with samples from neuroasymptomatic participants with chronic infection and ≥200 or <200 blood CD4 T cells/μL, and with samples from HIV-seronegative participants with respect to CSF and plasma HIV RNA, CSF to serum albumin ratio, and CSF white blood cell counts (WBC), neopterin levels, and concentrations of chemokines CXCL10 and CCL2.
Results. The PHI participants (median 77 days post transmission) had CSF HIV RNA, WBC, neopterin, and CXCL10 concentrations similar to the chronic infection participants but uniquely high albumin ratios. 18 participants had ≤100 copies/mL CSF HIV RNA, which was associated with low CSF to plasma HIV ratios and levels of CSF inflammation lower than in other PHI participants but higher than in HIV-seronegative controls.
Conclusions. Prominent CNS infection and immune activation is evident during the first months after HIV transmission, though a proportion of PHI patients demonstrate relatively reduced CSF HIV RNA and inflammation during this early period.
PMCID: PMC3156103  PMID: 21844301
13.  Differential Persistence of Transmitted HIV-1 Drug Resistance Mutation Classes 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(8):1174-1181.
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.
PMCID: PMC3107558  PMID: 21451005
14.  The cerebrospinal fluid proteome in HIV infection: change associated with disease severity 
Clinical proteomics  2012;9(1):3.
Central nervous system (CNS) infection is a nearly universal feature of untreated systemic HIV infection with a clinical spectrum that ranges from chronic asymptomatic infection to severe cognitive and motor dysfunction. Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has played an important part in defining the character of this evolving infection and response to treatment. To further characterize CNS HIV infection and its effects, we applied advanced high-throughput proteomic methods to CSF to identify novel proteins and their changes with disease progression and treatment.
After establishing an accurate mass and time (AMT) tag database containing 23,141 AMT tags for CSF peptides, we analyzed 91 CSF samples by LC-MS from 12 HIV-uninfected and 14 HIV-infected subjects studied in the context of initiation of antiretroviral therapy and correlated abundances of identified proteins a) within and between subjects, b) with all other proteins across the entire sample set, and c) with "external" CSF biomarkers of infection (HIV RNA), immune activation (neopterin) and neural injury (neurofilament light chain protein, NFL). We identified a mean of 2,333 +/- 328 (SD) peptides covering 307 +/-16 proteins in the 91 CSF sample set. Protein abundances differed both between and within subjects sampled at different time points and readily separated those with and without HIV infection. Proteins also showed inter-correlations across the sample set that were associated with biologically relevant dynamic processes. One-hundred and fifty proteins showed correlations with the external biomarkers. For example, using a threshold of cross correlation coefficient (Pearson's) ≤ -0.3 and ≥0.3 for potentially meaningful relationships, a total of 99 proteins correlated with CSF neopterin (43 negative and 56 positive correlations) and related principally to neuronal plasticity and survival and to innate immunity. Pathway analysis defined several networks connecting the identified proteins, including one with amyloid precursor protein as a central node.
Advanced CSF proteomic analysis enabled the identification of an array of novel protein changes across the spectrum of CNS HIV infection and disease. This initial analysis clearly demonstrated the value of contemporary state-of-the-art proteomic CSF analysis as a discovery tool in HIV infection with likely similar application to other neurological inflammatory and degenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3353874  PMID: 22433316
Amyloid; Cerebrospinal fluid; HIV; Pathway; Proteomics
15.  Novel application of Locked Nucleic Acid chemistry for a TaqMan assay for measuring diverse Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 subtypes 
Journal of Virological Methods  2010;170(1-2):115-120.
There remains a need for sensitive and cost-effective assays to monitor therapy in human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) infection. However, the genetic diversity of HIV poses difficulties for traditional real-time PCR assays that require long oligonucleotides probes. LNA™ probes may be useful in overcoming these limits to traditional probe design. A new application of LNA™ chemistry in a Taqman assay applicable to a wide range of HIV-1 subtypes is described. This assay, based on a 13-mer LNA™ probe that matches the majority of HIV-1 sequences in the Los Alamos database, exhibited a wide dynamic range (101 to 107 copies of HIV DNA), high sensitivity (limit of detection of 1 copy of HIV DNA in 105 cells), and broad applicability to a range of HIV-1 subtypes (including A, B, C, D, F, H, B/C, and A/E CRFs). Using the LNA™ probe assay, HIV-1 DNA was detected in all dried blood spots (DBS) from treatment naïve HIV-1 positive Ugandan children, and HIV DNA levels significantly correlated with viral RNA levels in plasma (r=0.765, p<0.0001). This approach to Taqman probe design should be explored further for use in diagnosis and monitoring of HIV in resource-limited settings, especially where several subtypes co-circulate.
PMCID: PMC3280821  PMID: 20863855
HIV; Taqman PCR; HIV subtypes; Dried Blood Spots; Locked Nucleic Acid
16.  Early virological failure and the development of antiretroviral drug resistance mutations in HIV-infected Ugandan children 
Without virologic testing, HIV-infected African children starting antiretroviral (ARV)-therapy are at risk for undetected virological failure and the development of ARV-resistance. We sought to determine the prevalence of early virologic failure (EVF), to characterize the evolution of ARV-resistance mutations, and to predict the impact on second-line therapy.
The prevalence of EVF (HIV-RNA >400 copies/mL on sequential visits after 6 months of therapy) was identified among 120 HIV-infected Ugandan children starting ARV-therapy. ARV-mutations were identified by population sequencing of HIV-1 pol in sequential archived specimens. Composite discrete genotypic susceptibility scores (dGSS) were determined for second-line ARV-regimens.
EVF occurred in 16 (13%) children and persisted throughout a median (IQR) 938 (760-1066) days of follow-up. M184V and non-nucleoside-reverse-transcriptase-inhibitor-associated mutations emerged within 6 months of EVF; thymidine-analog-mutations arose after 12 months. Worse dGSS scores correlated with increasing duration of failure (Spearman R = −0.47, p=0.001). Only 1 child met World Health Organization CD4 criteria for ARV-failure at the time of EVF or during the follow-up period.
A significant portion of HIV-infected African children experience EVF that would be undetected using CD4/clinical monitoring and resulted in the accumulation of ARV-mutations that could compromise second line therapy options.
PMCID: PMC3078046  PMID: 21099693
Resistance; Antiretroviral therapy; HIV; children; Africa
17.  Transmitted Drug Resistance in Persons with Acute/Early HIV-1 in San Francisco, 2002-2009 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15510.
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.
Methodology/Principal Findings
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.
PMCID: PMC3000814  PMID: 21170322
18.  Rapid Progressing Allele HLA-B35 Px Restricted Anti-HIV-1 CD8+ T Cells Recognize Vestigial CTL Epitopes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10249.
The HLA-B*35-Px allele has been associated with rapid disease progression in HIV-1 infection, in contrast to the HLA-B*35-Py allele.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Immune responses to two HLA-B*35 restricted HIV-1 specific CTL epitopes and their variants were followed longitudinally during early HIV-1 infection in 16 HLA-B*35+ individuals. Subjects expressing HLA-B*35-Px alleles showed no difference in response to the consensus epitopes compared to individuals with HLA-B*35-Py alleles. Surprisingly, all the HLA-B*35-Px+ individuals responded to epitope-variants even in the absence of a consensus response. Sequencing of the viral population revealed no evidence of variant virus in any of the individuals.
This demonstrates a novel phenomenon that distinguishes individuals with the HLA-B*35-Px rapid progressing allele and those with the HLA-B*35-Py slower progressing allele.
PMCID: PMC2858076  PMID: 20422053
19.  Enfuvirtide Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Pharmacokinetics and Potential Use in Defining CSF HIV-1 Origin 
Antiviral therapy  2008;13(3):369-374.
Enfuvirtide is a potent inhibitor of systemic HIV-1 replication, but its penetration into the human central nervous system (CNS) has not been analyzed. Here, we define cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) enfuvirtide pharmacokinetics and present a case illustrating the use of enfuvirtide as a probe to trace the origins of CSF HIV-1 quasispecies.
Enfuvirtide CSF PK was assessed in 18 CSF and plasma sample pairs from 4 HIV-1-infected subjects. Enfuvirtide levels were measured by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry using known standards and controls that including spiked CSF samples from untreated, HIV-negative subjects. A segment of the gp41-coding region encompassing the heptad repeat (HR)-1 and HR-2 domains was amplified from selected CSF and plasma samples, and independent clones sequenced to assess resistance-associated mutations.
CSF and plasma samples obtained between 2 and 20 hrs after enfuvirtide injection showed plasma concentrations similar to previous reports (mean 3.687 +/−1.828 µg/ml SD) with prolonged decay. By contrast, enfuvirtide in all CSF samples was below the assay detection limit of 0.025 µg/ml. In one subject, who developed a transient increase in CSF HIV-1 RNA, 7 of 7 CSF and plasma clones had identical enfuvirtide resistance-associated V38A mutation, suggesting that the CSF quasispecies derived from that of blood.
Enfuvirtide CSF penetration into CSF is negligible, and thus in clinical settings where direct CNS drug exposure is critical, this drug will likely not directly contribute to the local therapeutic effect. Enfuvirtide can be used as a tool to dissect the origin of the CNS virus.
PMCID: PMC2699482  PMID: 18572749
HIV-1; enfuvirtide (T-20); cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); central nervous system (CNS); AIDS dementia complex (ADC); treatment; resistance
20.  Immunity to HIV-1 Is Influenced by Continued Natural Exposure to Exogenous Virus 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(10):e1000185.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC2562513  PMID: 18949024
21.  Target Cell APOBEC3C Can Induce Limited G-to-A Mutation in HIV-1 
PLoS Pathogens  2007;3(10):e153.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC2042017  PMID: 17967058
22.  Cerebrospinal fluid HIV infection and pleocytosis: Relation to systemic infection and antiretroviral treatment 
Central nervous system (CNS) exposure to HIV is a universal facet of systemic infection. Because of its proximity to and shared barriers with the brain, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) provides a useful window into and model of human CNS HIV infection.
Prospective study of the relationships of CSF to plasma HIV RNA, and the effects of: 1) progression of systemic infection, 2) CSF white blood cell (WBC) count, 3) antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 4) neurological performance. One hundred HIV-infected subjects were cross-sectionally studied, and 28 were followed longitudinally after initiating or changing ART.
In cross-sectional analysis, HIV RNA levels were lower in CSF than plasma (median difference 1.30 log10 copies/mL). CSF HIV viral loads (VLs) correlated strongly with plasma VLs and CSF WBC counts. Higher CSF WBC counts associated with smaller differences between plasma and CSF HIV VL. CSF VL did not correlate with blood CD4 count, but CD4 counts <50 cells/μL associated with a low prevalence of CSF pleocytosis and large differences between plasma and CSF VL. CSF HIV RNA correlated neither with the severity of the AIDS dementia complex (ADC) nor abnormal quantitative neurological performance, although these measures were associated with depression of CD4 counts.
In subjects starting ART, those with lower CD4 counts had slower initial viral decay in CSF than in plasma. In all subjects, including five with persistent plasma viremia and four with new-onset ADC, CSF HIV eventually approached or reached the limit of viral detection and CSF pleocytosis resolved.
CSF HIV infection is common across the spectrum of infection and is directly related to CSF pleocytosis, though whether the latter is a response to or a contributing cause of CSF infection remains uncertain. Slowing in the rate of CSF response to ART compared to plasma as CD4 counts decline indicates a changing character of CSF infection with systemic immunological progression. Longer-term responses indicate that CSF infection generally responds well to ART, even in the face of systemic virological failure due to drug resistance. We present simple models to explain the differing relationships of CSF to plasma HIV in these settings.
PMCID: PMC1299327  PMID: 16266436
23.  Dual Pressure from Antiretroviral Therapy and Cell-Mediated Immune Response on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Protease Gene 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(12):6743-6752.
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.
PMCID: PMC156163  PMID: 12767994

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