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1.  A B cell follicle sanctuary permits persistent productive SIV infection in elite controllers 
Nature medicine  2015;21(2):132-139.
Chronic phase HIV/SIV replication is reduced by as much as 10,000-fold in elite controllers (EC) compared to typical progressors, but sufficient viral replication persists in EC tissues to allow viral sequence evolution and induce excess immune activation. Here, we show that productive SIV infection in rhesus monkey EC is strikingly restricted to follicular helper CD4+ T cells (TFH), suggesting that while the potent SIV-specific CD8+ T cells of these monkeys can effectively clear productive infection from extra-follicular sites, their relative exclusion from B cell follicles limits elimination of infected TFH. Indeed, CD8+ lymphocyte depletion of EC monkeys resulted in a dramatic re-distribution of productive SIV infection to non-TFH, with TFH restriction resuming upon CD8+ T cell recovery. Thus, B cell follicles constitute sanctuaries for persistent SIV replication in the presence of potent anti-viral CD8+ T cell responses, potentially complicating efforts to cure HIV infection with therapeutic vaccination or T cell immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC4320022  PMID: 25599132
2.  HIV-1 Induced AIDS in Monkeys 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2014;344(6190):1401-1405.
Primate lentiviruses exhibit narrow host tropism, reducing the occurrence of zoonoses but also impairing the development of optimal animal models of AIDS. To delineate the factors limiting cross-species HIV-1 transmission, we passaged a modified HIV-1 in pigtailed macaques that were transiently depleted of CD8+ cells during acute infection. During adaptation over four passages in macaques, HIV-1 acquired the ability to antagonize the macaque restriction factor tetherin, replicated at progressively higher levels and ultimately caused marked CD4+ T-cell depletion and AIDS-defining conditions. Transient treatment with anti-CD8 during acute HIV-1 infection caused rapid progression to AIDS, while untreated animals exhibited an elite controller phenotype. Thus, an adapted HIV-1 can cause AIDS in macaques, and stark differences in outcome can be determined by immunological perturbations during early infection.
PMCID: PMC4266393  PMID: 24948736
3.  Generation and characterization of a SIVmac239 clone corrected at four suboptimal nucleotides 
Retrovirology  2015;12:49.
SIVmac239 is a commonly used virus in non-human primate models of HIV transmission and pathogenesis. Previous studies identified four suboptimal nucleotides in the SIVmac239 genome, which putatively inhibit its replicative capacity. Since all four suboptimal changes revert to the optimal nucleotide consensus sequence during viral replication in vitro and in vivo, we sought to eliminate the variability of generating these mutations de novo and increase the overall consistency of viral replication by introducing the optimal nucleotides directly to the infectious molecular clone.
Using site directed mutagenesis of the full-length/nef-open SIVmac239 clone, we reverted all four nucleotides to the consensus/optimal base to generate SIVmac239Opt and subsequently tested its infectivity and replicative capacity in vitro and in vivo. In primary and cell line cultures, we observed that the optimized virus displayed consistent modest but not statistically significant increases in replicative kinetics compared to wild type. In vivo, SIVmac239Opt replicated to high peak titers with an average of 1.2 × 108 viral RNA copies/ml at day 12 following intrarectal challenge, reaching set-point viremia of 1.2 × 106 viral RNA copies/ml by day 28. Although the peak and set point viremia means were not statistically different from the original “wild type” SIVmac239, viral load variation at set point was greater for SIVmac239WT compared to SIVmac239Opt (p = 0.0015) demonstrating a greater consistency of the optimized virus. Synonymous mutations were added to the integrase gene of SIVmac239Opt to generate a molecular tag consisting of ten genetically distinguishable viral variants referred to as SIVmac239OptX (Del Prete et al., J Virol. doi:10.1128/JVI.01026-14, 2014). Replication dynamics in vitro of these optimized clones were not statistically different from the parental clones. Interestingly, the consistently observed rapid reversion of the primer binding site suboptimal nucleotide is not due to viral RT error but is changed post-integration of a mismatched base via host proofreading mechanisms.
Overall, our results demonstrate that SIVmac239Opt is a functional alternative to parental SIVmac239 with marginally faster replication dynamics and with increased replication uniformity providing a more consistent and reproducible infection model in nonhuman primates.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12977-015-0175-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4469405  PMID: 26076651
SIV; Evolution; Models of AIDS
4.  Effect of Suberoylanilide Hydroxamic Acid (SAHA) Administration on the Residual Virus Pool in a Model of Combination Antiretroviral Therapy-Mediated Suppression in SIVmac239-Infected Indian Rhesus Macaques 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(11):6790-6806.
Nonhuman primate models are needed for evaluations of proposed strategies targeting residual virus that persists in HIV-1-infected individuals receiving suppressive combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). However, relevant nonhuman primate (NHP) models of cART-mediated suppression have proven challenging to develop. We used a novel three-class, six-drug cART regimen to achieve durable 4.0- to 5.5-log reductions in plasma viremia levels and declines in cell-associated viral RNA and DNA in blood and tissues of simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239-infected Indian-origin rhesus macaques, then evaluated the impact of treatment with the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA; Vorinostat) on the residual virus pool. Ex vivo SAHA treatment of CD4+ T cells obtained from cART-suppressed animals increased histone acetylation and viral RNA levels in culture supernatants. cART-suppressed animals each received 84 total doses of oral SAHA. We observed SAHA dose-dependent increases in acetylated histones with evidence for sustained modulation as well as refractoriness following prolonged administration. In vivo virologic activity was demonstrated based on the ratio of viral RNA to viral DNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, a presumptive measure of viral transcription, which significantly increased in SAHA-treated animals. However, residual virus was readily detected at the end of treatment, suggesting that SAHA alone may be insufficient for viral eradication in the setting of suppressive cART. The effects observed were similar to emerging data for repeat-dose SAHA treatment of HIV-infected individuals on cART, demonstrating the feasibility, utility, and relevance of NHP models of cART-mediated suppression for in vivo assessments of AIDS virus functional cure/eradication approaches.
PMCID: PMC4249371  PMID: 25182644
5.  Improved Single-Copy Assays for Quantification of Persistent HIV-1 Viremia in Patients on Suppressive Antiretroviral Therapy 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(11):3944-3951.
A quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) assay with single-copy sensitivity targeting HIV-1 gag RNA (the gag single-copy assay [gSCA]) has been used widely to quantify plasma viremia below the limit of detection of clinical assays in patients on effective antiretroviral therapy (ART), but viral RNA in 15 to 30% of samples amplifies inefficiently because of primer/probe mismatches. We sought to develop improved single-copy assays with increased sensitivity by improving nucleic acid recovery, designing qRT-PCR primers and a probe for a highly conserved region of integrase in the HIV-1 pol gene (the integrase single-copy assay [iSCA]), and increasing the plasma volume tested (Mega-iSCA). We evaluated gSCA versus iSCA in paired plasma samples from 10 consecutive patients with viremia of >1,000 copies/ml and 25 consecutive patients on suppressive ART. Three of 10 viremic samples amplified inefficiently with gSCA compared to the Roche Cobas Ampliprep/TaqMan 2.0, whereas all 10 samples amplified efficiently with iSCA. Among 25 samples from patients on suppressive ART, 8 of 12 samples that were negative for HIV-1 RNA by gSCA had detectable HIV-1 RNA by iSCA, and iSCA detected 3-fold or higher HIV-1 RNA levels compared to gSCA in 10 of 25 samples. Large-volume plasma samples (>20 ml) from 7 patients were assayed using Mega-iSCA, and HIV-1 RNA was quantifiable in 6, including 4 of 5 that were negative by standard-volume iSCA. These improved assays with superior sensitivity will be useful for evaluating whether in vivo interventions can reduce plasma viremia and for assessing relationships between residual viremia and other virologic parameters, including the inducible proviral reservoir.
PMCID: PMC4313209  PMID: 25187636
6.  Distinct Phenotype, Longitudinal Changes of Numbers and Cell-Associated Virus in Blood Dendritic Cells in SIV-Infected CD8-Lymphocyte Depleted Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0119764.
Loss of circulating CD123+ plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) during HIV infection is well established. However, changes of myeloid DCs (mDCs) are ambiguous since they are studied as a homogeneous CD11c+ population despite phenotypic and functional heterogeneity. Heterogeneity of CD11c+ mDCs in primates is poorly described in HIV and SIV infection. Using multiparametric flow cytometry, we monitored longitudinally cell number and cell-associated virus of CD123+ pDCs and non-overlapping subsets of CD1c+ and CD16+ mDCs in SIV-infected CD8-depleted rhesus macaques. The numbers of all three DC subsets were significantly decreased by 8 days post-infection. Whereas CD123+ pDCs were persistently depleted, numbers of CD1c+ and CD16+ mDCs rebounded. Numbers of CD1c+ mDCs significantly increased by 3 weeks post-infection while numbers of CD16+ mDCs remained closer to pre-infection levels. We found similar changes in the numbers of all three DC subsets in CD8 depleted animals as we found in animals that were SIV infected animals that were not CD8 lymphocyte depleted. CD16+ mDCs and CD123+ pDCs but not CD1c+ mDCs were significantly decreased terminally with AIDS. All DC subsets harbored SIV RNA as early as 8 days and then throughout infection. However, SIV DNA was only detected in CD123+ pDCs and only at 40 days post-infection consistent with SIV RNA, at least in mDCs, being surface-bound. Altogether our data demonstrate that SIV infection differently affects CD1c+ and CD16+ mDCs where CD16+ but not CD1c+ mDCs are depleted and might be differentially regulated in terminal AIDS. Finally, our data underline the importance of studying CD1c+ and CD16+ mDCs as discrete populations, and not as total CD11c+ mDCs.
PMCID: PMC4410956  PMID: 25915601
7.  An Intravaginal Ring That Releases the NNRTI MIV-150 Reduces SHIV Transmission in Macaques 
Science translational medicine  2012;4(150):150ra123.
Microbicides may prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in women; however, determining the optimal means of delivery of active pharmaceutical ingredients remains a major challenge. We previously demonstrated that a vaginal gel containing the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor MIV-150 partially protected macaques from SHIV-RT (simian/HIV reverse transcriptase) infection, and the addition of zinc acetate rendered the gel significantly protective. We test the activity of MIV-150 without the addition of zinc acetate when delivered from either ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) or silicone intravaginal rings (IVRs). MIV-150 was successfully delivered, because it was detected in vaginal fluids and tissues by radioimmunoassay in pharmacokinetic studies. Moreover, EVA IVRs significantly protected macaques from SHIV-RT infection. Our results demonstrate that MIV-150–containing IVRs have the potential to prevent HIV infection and highlight the possible use of IVRs for delivering drugs that block HIV and other STIs.
PMCID: PMC4391747  PMID: 22956201
8.  CD8 T Cell Response Maturation Defined by Anentropic Specificity and Repertoire Depth Correlates with SIVΔnef-induced Protection 
PLoS Pathogens  2015;11(2):e1004633.
The live attenuated simian immunodeficiency virus (LASIV) vaccine SIVΔnef is one of the most effective vaccines in inducing protection against wild-type lentiviral challenge, yet little is known about the mechanisms underlying its remarkable protective efficacy. Here, we exploit deep sequencing technology and comprehensive CD8 T cell epitope mapping to deconstruct the CD8 T cell response, to identify the regions of immune pressure and viral escape, and to delineate the effect of epitope escape on the evolution of the CD8 T cell response in SIVΔnef-vaccinated animals. We demonstrate that the initial CD8 T cell response in the acute phase of SIVΔnef infection is mounted predominantly against more variable epitopes, followed by widespread sequence evolution and viral escape. Furthermore, we show that epitope escape expands the CD8 T cell repertoire that targets highly conserved epitopes, defined as anentropic specificity, and generates de novo responses to the escaped epitope variants during the vaccination period. These results correlate SIVΔnef-induced protection with expanded anentropic specificity and increased response depth. Importantly, these findings render SIVΔnef, long the gold standard in HIV/SIV vaccine research, as a proof-of-concept vaccine that highlights the significance of the twin principles of anentropic specificity and repertoire depth in successful vaccine design.
Author Summary
Annually, more than two million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Due to the ability of the virus to escape host immune responses, designing a successful HIV vaccine has been elusive. Similar to HIV in humans, rhesus macaques can be infected with SIV, a close relative and ancestor of HIV, resulting in simian AIDS. SIVΔnef, a live attenuated form of SIV, protects rhesus macaques from subsequent challenge with pathogenic SIV and is widely viewed as the most effective SIV vaccine. Here, we demonstrate that after vaccination of macaques with SIVΔnef, the immune response initially targets more variable regions of the virus, which the virus rapidly escapes. However, as the virus escapes, the immune response evolves to target more conserved regions of the virus as well as escape variants. This refocused targeting of conserved regions by the immune response provides a new mechanistic model that contributes to our understanding of how SIVΔnef vaccination protects animals from pathogenic challenge with SIV. Our findings also reinforce the importance of developing HIV vaccines that target conserved regions of the virus as well as their potential variants.
PMCID: PMC4334552  PMID: 25688559
9.  Vaccination with gag, vif, and nef Gene Fragments Affords Partial Control of Viral Replication after Mucosal Challenge with SIVmac239 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(13):7493-7516.
Broadly targeted cellular immune responses are thought to be important for controlling replication of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV). However, eliciting such responses by vaccination is complicated by immunodominance, the preferential targeting of only a few of the many possible epitopes of a given antigen. This phenomenon may be due to the coexpression of dominant and subdominant epitopes by the same antigen-presenting cell and may be overcome by distributing these sequences among several different vaccine constructs. Accordingly, we tested whether vaccinating rhesus macaques with “minigenes” encoding fragments of Gag, Vif, and Nef resulted in broadened cellular responses capable of controlling SIV replication. We delivered these minigenes through combinations of recombinant Mycobacterium bovis BCG (rBCG), electroporated recombinant DNA (rDNA) along with an interleukin-12 (IL-12)-expressing plasmid (EP rDNA plus pIL-12), yellow fever vaccine virus 17D (rYF17D), and recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5). Although priming with EP rDNA plus pIL-12 increased the breadth of vaccine-induced T-cell responses, this effect was likely due to the improved antigen delivery afforded by electroporation rather than modulation of immunodominance. Indeed, Mamu-A*01+ vaccinees mounted CD8+ T cells directed against only one subdominant epitope, regardless of the vaccination regimen. After challenge with SIVmac239, vaccine efficacy was limited to a modest reduction in set point in some of the groups and did not correlate with standard T-cell measurements. These findings suggest that broad T-cell responses elicited by conventional vectors may not be sufficient to substantially contain AIDS virus replication.
IMPORTANCE Immunodominance poses a major obstacle to the generation of broadly targeted, HIV-specific cellular responses by vaccination. Here we attempted to circumvent this phenomenon and thereby broaden the repertoire of SIV-specific cellular responses by vaccinating rhesus macaques with minigenes encoding fragments of Gag, Vif, and Nef. In contrast to previous mouse studies, this strategy appeared to minimally affect monkey CD8+ T-cell immundominance hierarchies, as seen by the detection of only one subdominant epitope in Mamu-A*01+ vaccinees. This finding underscores the difficulty of inducing subdominant CD8+ T cells by vaccination and demonstrates that strategies other than gene fragmentation may be required to significantly alter immunodominance in primates. Although some of the regimens tested here were extremely immunogenic, vaccine efficacy was limited to a modest reduction in set point viremia after challenge with SIVmac239. No correlates of protection were identified. These results reinforce the notion that vaccine immunogenicity does not predict control of AIDS virus replication.
PMCID: PMC4054456  PMID: 24741098
10.  Molecularly Tagged Simian Immunodeficiency Virus SIVmac239 Synthetic Swarm for Tracking Independent Infection Events 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(14):8077-8090.
Following mucosal human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission, systemic infection is established by one or only a few viral variants. Modeling single-variant, mucosal transmission in nonhuman primates using limiting-dose inoculations with a diverse simian immunodeficiency virus isolate stock may increase variability between animals since individual variants within the stock may have substantial functional differences. To decrease variability between animals while retaining the ability to enumerate transmitted/founder variants by sequence analysis, we modified the SIVmac239 clone to generate 10 unique clones that differ by two or three synonymous mutations (molecular tags). Transfection- and infection-derived virus stocks containing all 10 variants showed limited phenotypic differences in 9 of the 10 clones. Twenty-nine rhesus macaques were challenged intrarectally or intravenously with either a single dose or repeated, limiting doses of either stock. The proportion of each variant within each inoculum and in plasma from infected animals was determined by using a novel real-time single-genome amplification assay. Each animal was infected with one to five variants, the number correlating with the dose. Longitudinal sequence analysis revealed that the molecular tags are highly stable with no reversion to the parental sequence detected in >2 years of follow-up. Overall, the viral stocks are functional and mucosally transmissible and the number of variants is conveniently discernible by sequence analysis of a small amplicon. This approach should be useful for tracking individual infection events in preclinical vaccine evaluations, long-term viral reservoir establishment/clearance research, and transmission/early-event studies.
IMPORTANCE Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission is established by one or only a few viral variants. Modeling of limited variant transmission in nonhuman primates with a diverse simian immunodeficiency virus isolate stock may increase the variability between animals because of functional differences in the individual variants within the stock. To decrease such variability while retaining the ability to distinguish and enumerate transmitted/founder variants by sequence analysis, we generated a viral stock with 10 sequence-identifiable but otherwise genetically identical variants. This virus was characterized in vitro and in vivo and shown to allow discrimination of distinct transmission events. This approach provides a novel nonhuman primate challenge system for the study of viral transmission, evaluation of vaccines and other prevention approaches, and characterization of viral reservoirs and strategies to target them.
PMCID: PMC4097795  PMID: 24807714
11.  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
12.  HSV-2-Driven Increase in the Expression of α4β7 Correlates with Increased Susceptibility to Vaginal SHIVSF162P3 Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004567.
The availability of highly susceptible HIV target cells that can rapidly reach the mucosal lymphoid tissues may increase the chances of an otherwise rare transmission event to occur. Expression of α4β7 is required for trafficking of immune cells to gut inductive sites where HIV can expand and it is expressed at high level on cells particularly susceptible to HIV infection. We hypothesized that HSV-2 modulates the expression of α4β7 and other homing receptors in the vaginal tissue and that this correlates with the increased risk of HIV acquisition in HSV-2 positive individuals. To test this hypothesis we used an in vivo rhesus macaque (RM) model of HSV-2 vaginal infection and a new ex vivo model of macaque vaginal explants. In vivo we found that HSV-2 latently infected RMs appeared to be more susceptible to vaginal SHIVSF162P3 infection, had higher frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells in the vaginal tissue and higher expression of α4β7 and CD11c on vaginal DCs. Similarly, ex vivo HSV-2 infection increased the susceptibility of the vaginal tissue to SHIVSF162P3. HSV-2 infection increased the frequencies of α4β7high CD4+ T cells and this directly correlated with HSV-2 replication. A higher amount of inflammatory cytokines in vaginal fluids of the HSV-2 infected animals was similar to those found in the supernatants of the infected explants. Remarkably, the HSV-2-driven increase in the frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells directly correlated with SHIV replication in the HSV-2 infected tissues. Our results suggest that the HSV-2-driven increase in availability of CD4+ T cells and DCs that express high levels of α4β7 is associated with the increase in susceptibility to SHIV due to HSV-2. This may persists in absence of HSV-2 shedding. Hence, higher availability of α4β7 positive HIV target cells in the vaginal tissue may constitute a risk factor for HIV transmission.
Author Summary
Understanding the factors that correlate with an increased risk of acquiring HIV infection is key to identify new means of preventing HIV transmission. HSV-2 infection increases the risk of HIV transmission even in absence of visible lesions and inflammation. In order to explore HSV-2− associated factors that could explain this phenomenon, we used a model of asymptomatic HSV-2 infection in macaques and ex vivo cultures of biopsied vaginal tissue. We determined that HSV-2 infection is associated with an increase in subsets of immune cells that express high levels of α4β7, a molecule needed by the cells to reach the gut and the gut lymphoid tissues. The gut is an important site for HIV infection and pathogenesis and CD4+ T cells expressing high levels of α4β7 (α4β7high) are highly susceptible to the virus. We determined that the HSV-2-driven increase in these cells correlates with an increased susceptibility of the vaginal mucosa to SIV infection. Thus, our results suggest that an increased availability of α4β7high cells at the mucosal site of HIV exposure may constitute a risk factor for HIV acquisition in HSV-2 positive and, possibly, negative individuals.
PMCID: PMC4270786  PMID: 25521298
13.  The frequency of α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells correlates with susceptibility to rectal SIV infection 
Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)  2013;64(4):10.1097/QAI.0b013e31829f6e1a.
Integrin α4β7 (α4β7) mediates the homing of CD4+ T cells to gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT), which constitute a highly favorable environment for HIV expansion and dissemination. HIV and SIV envelope proteins bind to and signal through α4β7 and during acute infection SIV preferentially infects α4β7high CD4+ T cells. We postulated that the availability of these cells at the time of challenge could influence mucosal SIV transmission and acute viral load (VL).
We challenged 17 rhesus macaques with 3000 TCID50 of SIVmac239 rectally and followed the subsets of α4β7+ T and dendritic cells (DCs) by flow cytometry in blood and tissues, before and after challenge.
We found that the frequency of memory CD4+ T cells that expressed high levels of α4β7 (α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells) in blood before challenge correlated strongly with susceptibility to infection and acute VL. Notably, not only at the time of challenge, but also their frequency 3 weeks before challenge correlated with infection. This association extended to the rectal tissue as we observed a strong direct correlation between the frequency of α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells in blood and rectum before and after challenge. The frequency of α4β7+ myeloid DCs and α4β7high CD80+ DCs also correlated with infection and acute VL, while blood CCR5+ and CD69+ CD4+ T cells could not be associated with infection.
Our results suggest that animals with higher frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells in circulation and in rectal tissue could be more susceptible to SIV rectal transmission.
PMCID: PMC3815485  PMID: 23797688
HIV; SIV; mucosa transmission; integrin alpha-4 beta-7; susceptibility; gut
14.  Effect of Combination Antiretroviral Therapy on Chinese Rhesus Macaques of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2013;29(11):1465-1474.
Definitive treatment of HIV infection remains a critical but elusive goal, with persistence of residual virus even in the face of prolonged administration of suppressive combination antiretroviral treatment (cART) providing a source for recrudescent infection if treatment is stopped. Characterization of the residual virus and devising strategies to target it for eradication are key goals in HIV treatment research. Indian rhesus macaques (In-RM) infected with SIVmac have been widely used in such research. However, it has proven challenging to achieve and sustain clinically relevant levels of suppression (<30 vRNA copies/ml plasma) with cART in such models. As ease of viral suppression by cART is related to pretreatment levels of viral replication, and levels of replication of SIVmac239/251 are lower in Chinese rhesus macaques (Ch-RM) than in In-RM, we evaluated cART administration to SIVmac-infected Ch-RM as a potential model for studies of residual virus and eradication strategies. Four SIVmac239-infected Ch-RM received cART including reverse transcriptase inhibitors PMPA/FTC and integrase inhibitor L-870812 daily for 8 weeks. Plasma viral loads were promptly reduced to <30 copies/ml upon initiation of cART. Cell-associated SIV DNA levels in lymphocytes from the gut were also significantly reduced. Jejunal and colonic CCR5+CD4+ mucosal memory T cells increased significantly; restoration of these cells was associated with reductions in immune activation. In conclusion, cART effectively suppressed viral replication to <30 vRNA copies/ml in SIVmac239-infected Ch-RM, reducing immune activation and restoring mucosal immune cell populations. SIVmac239-infected Ch-RM may be a useful model for studying responses to cART and persistent tissue reservoirs and evaluating candidate eradication strategies to cure HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3809389  PMID: 23387294
15.  Short Communication: A Repeated Simian Human Immunodeficiency Virus Reverse Transcriptase/Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Cochallenge Macaque Model for the Evaluation of Microbicides 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2014;30(11):1117-1124.
Epidemiological studies suggest that prevalent herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection increases the risk of HIV acquisition, underscoring the need to develop coinfection models to evaluate promising prevention strategies. We previously established a single high-dose vaginal coinfection model of simian human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)/HSV-2 in Depo-Provera (DP)-treated macaques. However, this model does not appropriately mimic women's exposure. Repeated limiting dose SHIV challenge models are now used routinely to test prevention strategies, yet, at present, there are no reports of a repeated limiting dose cochallenge model in which to evaluate products targeting HIV and HSV-2. Herein, we show that 20 weekly cochallenges with 2–50 TCID50 simian human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) and 107 pfu HSV-2 results in infection with both viruses (4/6 SHIV-RT, 6/6 HSV-2). The frequency and level of vaginal HSV-2 shedding were significantly greater in the repeated exposure model compared to the single high-dose model (p<0.0001). We used this new model to test the Council's on-demand microbicide gel, MZC, which is active against SHIV-RT in DP-treated macaques and HSV-2 and human papillomavirus (HPV) in mice. While MZC reduced SHIV and HSV-2 infections in our repeated limiting dose model when cochallenging 8 h after each gel application, a barrier effect of carrageenan (CG) that was not seen in DP-treated animals precluded evaluation of the significance of the antiviral activity of MZC. Both MZC and CG significantly (p<0.0001) reduced the frequency and level of vaginal HSV-2 shedding compared to no gel treatment. This validates the use of this repeated limiting dose cochallenge model for testing products targeting HIV and HSV-2.
PMCID: PMC4208605  PMID: 25354024
16.  A MIV-150/Zinc Acetate Gel Inhibits SHIV-RT Infection in Macaque Vaginal Explants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108109.
To extend our observations that single or repeated application of a gel containing the NNRTI MIV-150 (M) and zinc acetate dihydrate (ZA) in carrageenan (CG) (MZC) inhibits vaginal transmission of simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)-RT in macaques, we evaluated safety and anti-SHIV-RT activity of MZC and related gel formulations ex vivo in macaque mucosal explants. In addition, safety was further evaluated in human ectocervical explants. The gels did not induce mucosal toxicity. A single ex vivo exposure to diluted MZC (1∶30, 1∶100) and MC (1∶30, the only dilution tested), but not to ZC gel, up to 4 days prior to viral challenge, significantly inhibited SHIV-RT infection in macaque vaginal mucosa. MZC's activity was not affected by seminal plasma. The antiviral activity of unformulated MIV-150 was not enhanced in the presence of ZA, suggesting that the antiviral activity of MZC was mediated predominantly by MIV-150. In vivo administration of MZC and CG significantly inhibited ex vivo SHIV-RT infection (51–62% inhibition relative to baselines) of vaginal (but not cervical) mucosa collected 24 h post last gel exposure, indicating barrier effect of CG. Although the inhibitory effect of MZC (65–74%) did not significantly differ from CG (32–45%), it was within the range of protection (∼75%) against vaginal SHIV-RT challenge 24 h after gel dosing. Overall, the data suggest that evaluation of candidate microbicides in macaque explants can inform macaque efficacy and clinical studies design. The data support advancing MZC gel for clinical evaluation.
PMCID: PMC4178065  PMID: 25259616
Nature  2013;503(7475):277-280.
Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) can confer immunity to primate lentiviruses by blocking infection in macaque models of AIDS1–4. However, earlier studies of anti-HIV 1 NAbs administered to infected individuals or humanized mice, reported poor control of virus replication and the rapid emergence of resistant variants 5–7. A new generation of anti-HIV 1 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), possessing extraordinary potency and breadth of neutralizing activity, has recently been isolated from infected individuals 8. These NAbs target different regions of the HIV 1 envelope glycoprotein including the CD4 binding site (bs), glycans located in the V1/V2, V3, and V4 regions, and the membrane proximal external region of gp419–14. We have examined two of the new antibodies, directed to the CD4 bs and the V3 region (3BNC117 and 10-1074 respectively) for their ability to block infection and suppress viremia in macaques infected with the R5 tropic SHIVAD8 virus, which emulates many of the pathogenic and immunogenic properties of HIV 1 during infections of rhesus macaques15,16. Either antibody alone can potently block virus acquisition. When administered individually to recently infected monkeys, the 10-1074 antibody caused a rapid decline in virus loads to undetectable levels for 4 to 7 days, followed by virus rebound during which neutralization resistant variants became detectable. When administered together, a single treatment rapidly suppressed plasma viremia for 3 to 5 weeks in some long-term chronically SHIV infected animals with low CD4+ T cell levels. A second cycle of anti-HIV 1 mAb therapy, administered to two previously treated animals, successfully controlled virus rebound. These results suggest that immunotherapy or a combination of immunotherapy plus conventional antiretroviral drugs might be useful as a treatment for chronically HIV-1 infected individuals experiencing immune dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC4133787  PMID: 24172896
18.  Effects of Treatment with Suppressive Combination Antiretroviral Drug Therapy and the Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Suberoylanilide Hydroxamic Acid; (SAHA) on SIV-Infected Chinese Rhesus Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102795.
Viral reservoirs–persistent residual virus despite combination antiretroviral therapy (cART)–remain an obstacle to cure of HIV-1 infection. Difficulty studying reservoirs in patients underscores the need for animal models that mimics HIV infected humans on cART. We studied SIV-infected Chinese-origin rhesus macaques (Ch-RM) treated with intensive combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) and 3 weeks of treatment with the histone deacetyalse inhibitor, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA).
SIVmac251 infected Ch-RM received reverse transcriptase inhibitors PMPA and FTC and integrase inhibitor L-870812 beginning 7 weeks post infection. Integrase inhibitor L-900564 and boosted protease inhibitor treatment with Darunavir and Ritonavir were added later. cART was continued for 45 weeks, with daily SAHA administered for the last 3 weeks, followed by euthanasia/necropsy. Plasma viral RNA and cell/tissue-associated SIV gag RNA and DNA were quantified by qRT-PCR/qPCR, with flow cytometry monitoring changes in immune cell populations.
Upon cART initiation, plasma viremia declined, remaining <30 SIV RNA copy Eq/ml during cART, with occasional blips. Decreased viral replication was associated with decreased immune activation and partial restoration of intestinal CD4+ T cells. SAHA was well tolerated but did not result in demonstrable treatment-associated changes in plasma or cell associated viral parameters.
The ability to achieve and sustain virological suppression makes cART-suppressed, SIV-infected Ch-RM a potentially useful model to evaluate interventions targeting residual virus. However, despite intensive cART over one year, persistent viral DNA and RNA remained in tissues of all three animals. While well tolerated, three weeks of SAHA treatment did not demonstrably impact viral RNA levels in plasma or tissues; perhaps reflecting dosing, sampling and assay limitations.
PMCID: PMC4102539  PMID: 25033210
19.  Tetherin Upregulation in Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(24):13917-13921.
Here we show that simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of rhesus macaques results in rapid upregulation of tetherin (BST-2 or CD317) on peripheral blood lymphocytes, including the CD4+ CCR5+ T cell targets of virus infection, with a peak of induction that coincides with peak alpha interferon (IFN-α) levels in plasma, and that tetherin remains above baseline levels throughout chronic infection. These observations are consistent with a role for tetherin in innate immunity to immunodeficiency virus infection.
PMCID: PMC3838227  PMID: 24109219
20.  Absence of Detectable HIV-1 Viremia after Treatment Cessation in an Infant 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(19):1828-1835.
An infant born to a woman with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection began receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) 30 hours after birth owing to high-risk exposure. ART was continued when detection of HIV-1 DNA and RNA on repeat testing met the standard diagnostic criteria for infection. After therapy was discontinued (when the child was 18 months of age), levels of plasma HIV-1 RNA, proviral DNA in peripheral-blood mononuclear cells, and HIV-1 antibodies, as assessed by means of clinical assays, remained undetectable in the child through 30 months of age. This case suggests that very early ART in infants may alter the establishment and long-term persistence of HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC3954754  PMID: 24152233
21.  A Potent Combination Microbicide that Targets SHIV-RT, HSV-2 and HPV 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94547.
Prevalent infection with human herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) or human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with increased human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition. Microbicides that target HIV as well as these sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may more effectively limit HIV incidence. Previously, we showed that a microbicide gel (MZC) containing MIV-150, zinc acetate (ZA) and carrageenan (CG) protected macaques against simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV-RT) infection and that a ZC gel protected mice against HSV-2 infection. Here we evaluated a modified MZC gel (containing different buffers, co-solvents, and preservatives suitable for clinical testing) against both vaginal and rectal challenge of animals with SHIV-RT, HSV-2 or HPV. MZC was stable and safe in vitro (cell viability and monolayer integrity) and in vivo (histology). MZC protected macaques against vaginal (p<0.0001) SHIV-RT infection when applied up to 8 hours (h) prior to challenge. When used close to the time of challenge, MZC prevented rectal SHIV-RT infection of macaques similar to the CG control. MZC significantly reduced vaginal (p<0.0001) and anorectal (p = 0.0187) infection of mice when 106 pfu HSV-2 were applied immediately after vaginal challenge and also when 5×103 pfu were applied between 8 h before and 4 h after vaginal challenge (p<0.0248). Protection of mice against 8×106 HPV16 pseudovirus particles (HPV16 PsV) was significant for MZC applied up to 24 h before and 2 h after vaginal challenge (p<0.0001) and also if applied 2 h before or after anorectal challenge (p<0.0006). MZC provides a durable window of protection against vaginal infection with these three viruses and, against HSV-2 and HPV making it an excellent candidate microbicide for clinical use.
PMCID: PMC3989196  PMID: 24740100
Prime-boost immunization with heterologous vaccines elicits potent cellular immunity. Here, we assessed the influence of various TLR ligands on SIV Gag-specific T cell immunity and protection following prime-boost immunization. Rhesus macaques (RM) were primed with SIV Gag protein emulsified in montanide ISA51 with or without TLR3 (polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (Poly IC)), TLR4 (monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL)), TLR7/8, TLR9 (CpG) or TLR3 (Poly IC) combined with TLR7/8 ligands, then boosted with replication defective adenovirus 5 expressing SIV Gag (rAd5-Gag). After priming, RM that received SIV Gag protein plus Poly IC developed significantly higher frequencies of SIV Gag-specific CD4+ Th1 responses in blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid lymphocytes (BAL) compared to all other adjuvants, and low-level SIV Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses. After the rAd5-Gag boost, the magnitude and breadth of SIV Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses were significantly increased in RM primed with SIV Gag protein plus Poly IC, with or without the TLR7/8 ligand, or CpG. However, the anamnestic, SIV Gag-specific CD8+ T cell response to SIVmac251 challenge was not significantly enhanced by SIV Gag protein priming with any of the adjuvants. In contrast, the anamnestic SIV Gag-specific CD4+ T cell response in BAL was enhanced by SIV Gag protein priming with Poly IC or CpG, which correlated with partial control of early viral replication after SIVmac251 challenge. These results demonstrate that prime-boost vaccination with SIV Gag protein/Poly IC improves magnitude, breadth, and durability of CD4+ T cell immune responses, which may have a role in control of SIV viral replication.
PMCID: PMC3622154  PMID: 23509365
23.  Immune clearance of highly pathogenic SIV infection 
Nature  2013;502(7469):10.1038/nature12519.
Established infections with the human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV, SIV) are thought to be permanent with even the most effective immune responses and anti-retroviral therapies (ART) only able to control, but not clear, these infections1–4. Whether the residual virus that maintains these infections is vulnerable to clearance is a question of central importance to the future management of millions of HIV-infected individuals. We recently reported that ~50% of rhesus macaques (RM) vaccinated with SIV protein-expressing Rhesus Cytomegalovirus (RhCMV/SIV) vectors manifest durable, aviremic control of infection with highly pathogenic SIVmac2395. Here, we demonstrate that regardless of route of challenge, RhCMV/SIV vector-elicited immune responses control SIVmac239 after demonstrable lymphatic and hematogenous viral dissemination, and that replication-competent SIV persists in multiple sites for weeks to months. However, over time, protected RM lost signs of SIV infection, showing a consistent lack of measurable plasma or tissue-associated virus using ultrasensitive assays, and loss of T cell reactivity to SIV determinants not in the vaccine. Extensive ultrasensitive RT-PCR and PCR analysis of tissues from RhCMV/SIV vector-protected RM necropsied 69–172 weeks after challenge did not detect SIV RNA or DNA over background, and replication-competent SIV was not detected in these RM by extensive co-culture analysis of tissues or by adoptive transfer of 60 million hematolymphoid cells to naïve RM. These data provide compelling evidence for progressive clearance of a pathogenic lentiviral infection, and suggest that some lentiviral reservoirs may be susceptible to the continuous effector memory T cell-mediated immune surveillance elicited and maintained by CMV vectors.
PMCID: PMC3849456  PMID: 24025770
24.  Reduced Inflammation and Lymphoid Tissue Immunopathology in Rhesus Macaques Receiving Anti–Tumor Necrosis Factor Treatment During Primary Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;207(6):880-892.
Background. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections induce robust, generalized inflammatory responses that begin during acute infection and lead to pathological systemic immune activation, fibrotic damage of lymphoid tissues, and CD4+ T-cell loss, pathogenic processes that contribute to disease progression.
Methods. To better understand the contribution of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a key regulator of acute inflammation, to lentiviral pathogenesis, rhesus macaques newly infected with SIVmac239 were treated for 12 weeks in a pilot study with adalimumab (Humira), a human anti-TNF monoclonal antibody.
Results. Adalimumab did not affect plasma SIV RNA levels or measures of T-cell immune activation (CD38 or Ki67) in peripheral blood or lymph node T cells. However, compared with untreated rhesus macaques, adalimumab-treated rhesus macaques showed attenuated expression of proinflammatory genes, decreased infiltration of polymorphonuclear cells into the T-cell zone of lymphoid tissues, and weaker antiinflammatory regulatory responses to SIV infection (ie, fewer presumed alternatively activated [ie, CD163+] macrophages, interleukin 10–producing cells, and transforming growth factor β–producing cells), along with reduced lymphoid tissue fibrosis and better preservation of CD4+ T cells.
Conclusions. While HIV/SIV replication drives pathogenesis, these data emphasize the contribution of the inflammatory response to lentiviral infection to overall pathogenesis, and they suggest that early modulation of the inflammatory response may help attenuate disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3571439  PMID: 23087435
SIV; rhesus macaque; Sooty mangabey; lymph node; inflammation; adalimumab; TNF; macrophage; fibrosis; collagen; TGFb
25.  Exposure to MIV-150 from a High-Dose Intravaginal Ring Results in Limited Emergence of Drug Resistance Mutations in SHIV-RT Infected Rhesus Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89300.
When microbicides used for HIV prevention contain antiretroviral drugs, there is concern for the potential emergence of drug-resistant HIV following use in infected individuals who are either unaware of their HIV infection status or who are aware but still choose to use the microbicide. Resistant virus could ultimately impact their responsiveness to treatment and/or result in subsequent transmission of drug-resistant virus. We tested whether drug resistance mutations (DRMs) would emerge in macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus expressing HIV reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) after sustained exposure to the potent non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) MIV-150 delivered via an intravaginal ring (IVR). We first treated 4 SHIV-RT-infected animals with daily intramuscular injections of MIV-150 over two 21 day (d) intervals separated by a 7 d drug hiatus. In all 4 animals, NNRTI DRMs (single and combinations) were detected within 14 d and expanded in proportion and diversity with time. Knowing that we could detect in vivo emergence of NNRTI DRMs in response to MIV-150, we then tested whether a high-dose MIV-150 IVR (loaded with >10 times the amount being used in a combination microbicide IVR in development) would select for resistance in 6 infected animals, modeling use of this prevention method by an HIV-infected woman. We previously demonstrated that this MIV-150 IVR provides significant protection against vaginal SHIV-RT challenge. Wearing the MIV-150 IVR for 56 d led to only 2 single DRMs in 2 of 6 animals (430 RT sequences analyzed total, 0.46%) from plasma and lymph nodes despite MIV-150 persisting in the plasma, vaginal fluids, and genital tissues. Only wild type virus sequences were detected in the genital tissues. These findings indicate a low probability for the emergence of DRMs after topical MIV-150 exposure and support the advancement of MIV-150-containing microbicides.
PMCID: PMC3937329  PMID: 24586674

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