Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) initiated within several weeks of HIV infection in adults limits proviral reservoirs that preclude HIV cure. Biomarkers of restricted proviral reservoirs may aid in the monitoring of HIV remission or cure.
To quantify peripheral blood proviral reservoir size in perinatally HIV-infected adolescents and to identify correlates of limited proviral reservoirs.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A cross-sectional study including 144 perinatally HIV-infected (PHIV+) youth (median age: 14.3 years), enrolled in the US-based Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study, on durable (median: 10.2 years) cART, stratified by age at virologic control.
Main Outcome and Measures
The primary endpoint was peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) proviral load following virologic control at different ages. Correlations between proviral load and markers of active HIV production (HIV-specific antibodies, 2-long terminal repeat (2-LTR) circles), and markers of immune activation and inflammation were also assessed.
Proviral reservoir size was markedly reduced in the PHIV+ youth who achieved virologic control by age 1 year (4.2 [interquartile range, 2.6-8 6] copies per 1 million PBMCs) compared to those who achieved virologic control between 1-5 years of age (19.4 [interquartile range, 5.5-99.8] copies per 1 million PBMCs) or after age 5 years (−(70.7 [interquartile range, 23.2-209.4] copies per 1 million PBMCs; P < .00l). A proviral burden <10 copies/million PBMCs was measured in 11 (79%), 20 (40%), and 13 (18%) participants with virologic control at ages <1 year, 1-5 years, and >5 years, respectively (p<0.001). Lower proviral load was associated with undetectable 2-LTR circles (p<0.001) and HIV negative or indeterminate serostatus (p<0.001), but not with concentrations of soluble immune activation markers CD14 and CD163.
Conclusions and Relevance
Early effective cART along with prolonged virologic suppression after perinatal HIV infection leads to negligible peripheral blood proviral reservoirs in adolescence and is associated with negative or indeterminate HIV serostatus. These findings highlight the long-term effect of early effective control of HIV replication on biomarkers of HIV persistence in perinatal infection and the utility of HIV serostatus as a biomarker for small proviral reservoir size, though not necessarily of cure.