Macrophages are key targets of HIV-1 infection. We have previously described that the expression of CC chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) increases during monocyte differentiation to macrophages and it is further up-modulated by HIV-1 exposure. Moreover, CCL2 acts as an autocrine factor that promotes viral replication in infected macrophages. In this study, we dissected the molecular mechanisms by which CCL2 neutralization inhibits HIV-1 replication in monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM), and the potential involvement of the innate restriction factors protein sterile alpha motif (SAM) histidine/aspartic acid (HD) domain containing 1 (SAMHD1) and apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing, enzyme-catalytic, polypeptide-like 3 (APOBEC3) family members.
CCL2 neutralization potently reduced the number of p24 Gag+ cells during the course of either productive or single cycle infection with HIV-1. In contrast, CCL2 blocking did not modify entry of HIV-1 based Virus Like Particles, thus demonstrating that the restriction involves post-entry steps of the viral life cycle. Notably, the accumulation of viral DNA, both total, integrated and 2-LTR circles, was strongly impaired by neutralization of CCL2. Looking for correlates of HIV-1 DNA accumulation inhibition, we found that the antiviral effect of CCL2 neutralization was independent of the modulation of SAMHD1 expression or function. Conversely, a strong and selective induction of APOBEC3A expression, to levels comparable to those of freshly isolated monocytes, was associated with the inhibition of HIV-1 replication mediated by CCL2 blocking. Interestingly, the CCL2 neutralization mediated increase of APOBEC3A expression was type I IFN independent. Moreover, the transcriptome analysis of the effect of CCL2 blocking on global gene expression revealed that the neutralization of this chemokine resulted in the upmodulation of additional genes involved in the defence response to viruses.
Neutralization of endogenous CCL2 determines a profound restriction of HIV-1 replication in primary MDM affecting post-entry steps of the viral life cycle with a mechanism independent of SAMHD1. In addition, CCL2 blocking is associated with induction of APOBEC3A expression, thus unravelling a novel mechanism which might contribute to regulate the expression of innate intracellular viral antagonists in vivo. Thus, our study may potentially lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies for enhancing innate cellular defences against HIV-1 and protecting macrophages from infection.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12977-014-0132-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Monocyte-derived macrophage; CCL2; HIV-1; Restriction; SAMHD1; APOBEC3A
Prevention of HIV infection has recently acquired new effective tools, based on the provision of antiretrovirals, to both decrease the “source” of HIV infection and/or to decrease host susceptibility to HIV infection. The milestone concept of using antiretrovirals for prevention has been tested already in the 1990s, to interrupt maternal–child. The suggestion of using antiretrovirals to decrease inter-human HIV transmission was born already in 2006, and definitely proven by a randomized controlled study on HIV-discordant couples demonstrating an astonishing 96% efficacy, and with numerous studies proving the efficacy of pre-exposure prophylaxis. It now appears clear that antiretroviral therapy not only provides clinical benefit to the individual (although the exact starting time remains controversial, in terms of risk-benefit ratio and public health policy) but has the potential of decreasing the incidence of new infections at a population level. The concept of Treatment as Prevention is now gaining momentum, as a way to progressively end the AIDS epidemic by expanding the access to antiretrovirals, with “test and treat” being the ultimate possibility, although not already tested in the field and with huge implementation barriers. The presentation will deal with successes, failures, and foreseen barriers of using antiretrovirals for prevention, at the individual and population level, also including the social issues, the need to target key-affected populations, and, finally, the perspectives of new technologies under development.
During HIV infection the severe depletion of intestinal CD4+ T-cells is associated with microbial translocation, systemic immune activation, and disease progression. This study examined intestinal and peripheral CD4+ T-cell subsets reconstitution under combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), and systemic immune activation markers.
This longitudinal single-arm pilot study evaluates CD4+ T cells, including Th1 and Th17, in gut and blood and soluble markers for inflammation in HIV-infected individuals before (M0) and after eight (M8) months of cART. From January 2010 to December 2011, 10 HIV-1 naïve patients were screened and 9 enrolled. Blood and gut CD4+ T-cells subsets and cellular immune activation were determined by flow-cytometry and plasma soluble CD14 by ELISA. CD4+ Th17 cells were detected in gut biopsies by immunohistochemistry. Microbial translocation was measured by limulus-amebocyte-lysate assay to detect bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and PCR Real Time to detect plasma bacterial 16S rDNA.
Eight months of cART increased intestinal CD4+ and Th17 cells and reduced levels of T-cell activation and proliferation. The magnitude of intestinal CD4+ T-cell reconstitution correlated with the reduction of plasma LPS. Importantly, the magnitude of Th17 cells reconstitution correlated directly with blood CD4+ T-cell recovery.
Short-term antiretroviral therapy resulted in a significant increase in the levels of total and Th17 CD4+ T-cells in the gut mucosa and in decline of T-cell activation. The observation that pre-treatment levels of CD4+ and of CD8+ T-cell activation are predictors of the magnitude of Th17 cell reconstitution following cART provides further rationale for an early initiation of cART in HIV-infected individuals.
This study was conducted to assess the long-term effect of methylphenidate (MPH) or atomoxetine (ATX) on growth in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug-naïve children.
The study was an observational, post-marketing, fourth phase study.
Data on height and weight were collected at baseline and every 6 months up to 24 months.
Both ATX and MPH lead to decreased height gain (assessed by means of z-scores); the effect was significantly higher for ATX than for MPH. At any time, height z-score decrease in the ATX group was higher than the corresponding decrease observed in the MPH group, but the difference was significantly relevant only during the first year of treatment. An increment of average weight was observed both in patients treated with MPH and in those treated with ATX. However, using Tanner's percentile, a subset of patients showed a degree of growth lower than expected. This negative effect was significantly higher for ATX than for MPH.
We conclude that ADHD drugs show a negative effect on linear growth in children in middle term. Such effect appears more evident for ATX than for MPH.
Scientific research has demonstrated the clinical benefits of earlier initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART), and that ART can markedly reduce HIV transmission to sexual partners. Ensuring universal access to ART for those who need it has long been a core principle of the HIV response, and extending the benefits of ART to key populations is critical to increasing the impact of ART and the overall effectiveness of the HIV response. However, this can only be achieved through coordinated efforts to address political, social, legal and economic barriers that key populations face in accessing HIV services.
Recent analyses show that HIV prevalence levels among key populations are far higher than among the general population, and they experience a range of biological and behavioural factors, and social, legal and economic barriers that increase their vulnerability to HIV and have resulted in alarmingly low ART coverage. World Health Organization 2014 consolidated guidance on HIV among key populations offers the potential for increased access to ART by key populations, following the same principles as for the general adult population. However, it should not be assumed that key populations will achieve greater access to ART unless stigma, discrimination and punitive laws, policies and practices that limit access to ART and other HIV interventions in many countries are addressed.
Rights-based approaches and investments in critical enablers, such as supportive legal and policy environments, are essential to enable wider access to ART and other HIV interventions for key populations. The primary objective of ART should always be to treat the person living with HIV; prevention is an important, additional benefit. ART should be provided only with informed consent. The preventive benefits of treatment must not be used as a pretext for failure to provide other necessary HIV programming for key populations, including comprehensive harm reduction and other prevention interventions tailored to meet the needs of key populations. An end to AIDS is only possible if we overcome the barriers of criminalization, stigma and discrimination that remain key drivers of the HIV epidemics among key populations.
treatment; HIV/AIDS; human rights
Antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection requires life-long access and strict adherence to regimens that are both expensive and associated with toxicities. There is growing recognition that a curative intervention will be needed to fully stop the epidemic. The failure to eradicate HIV infection during long-term antiretroviral therapy reflects the intrinsic stability of the viral genome in latently infected CD4+ T cells and other cells and perhaps ongoing low-level viral replication. Heterogeneity in latently infected cell populations and homeostatic proliferation of infected cells may influence the dynamics of virus production and persistence. Chronic immune activation, inflammation and immune dysfunction persist despite potent antiretroviral therapy and likely have important effects on the size and distribution of the viral reservoir. The inability of the immune system to recognize cells harboring latent virus and to eliminate cells actively producing virus represents the biggest challenge to finding a cure. In this perspective, we highlight new approaches toward unraveling the complex virus-host interactions that lead to persistent infection and latency and discuss the rationale for combining novel therapeutic strategies with current antiretroviral treatment options with the goal of curing HIV disease.
Histone Deacetylases; Epigenetics; Gene Silencing; HIV-1 /immunology
Coinfection with the hepatitis viruses is common in the HIV population in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of this study was to assess, in a cohort of HIV-infected pregnant women receiving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), the prevalence of HBV and HCV infections and to determine the impact of these infections on the occurrence of liver toxicity and on the viro-immunological response.
Women were screened for HBsAg and HCV-RNA before starting, at week 25 of gestational age, an antiretroviral regimen consisting of lamivudine and nevirapine plus either stavudine or zidovudine. Women with CD4+ < 350/mm3 continued ARVs indefinitely, while the other women interrupted treatment 6 months postpartum (end of breastfeeding period). Both groups were followed for 2 years after delivery. Liver function was monitored by alanine aminotransferase (ALT) measurement. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to identify factors associated with the emergence of liver toxicity.
A total of 28 women out of the 309 enrolled in the study (9.1%) were coinfected with HBV (n. 27), or HCV (n. 1). During follow-up 125 women (40.4%) developed a grade ≥ 1 ALT elevation, 28 (9.1%) a grade ≥ 2 and 6 (1.9%) an elevation defining grade 3 toxicity. In a multivariate model including age, baseline CD4+ count and hemoglobin level, the presence of either HBV or HCV infection was significantly associated with the development of an ALT increase of any grade (P = 0.035). Moderate or severe liver laboratory toxicity (grade ≥ 2) was more frequent among women with baseline CD4+ > 250/mm3 (P = 0.030). In HBV-infected women a baseline HBV-DNA level above 10,000 IU/ml was significantly associated to the development of liver toxicity of grade ≥ 1 (P = 0.040). Coinfections had no impact on the immunological and virological response to antiretroviral drugs up to 2 years after delivery.
In this cohort of nevirapine-treated women the presence of HBV or HCV was associated only to the development of mild liver toxicity, while the occurrence of moderate or severe hepatoxicity was correlated to a baseline CD4+ count > 250/mm3. No statistically significant effect of the coinfections was observed on the efficacy of antiretroviral therapy.
Antiretroviral therapy; Hepatotoxicity; HBV; HCV; Nevirapine; Pregnancy; Mother-to-child HIV transmission
Raltegravir (Isentress®)(RALT) has demonstrated excellent efficacy in both treatment-experienced and naïve patients with HIV-1 infection, and is the first strand transfer integrase inhibitor to be approved for use in HIV infected adults worldwide. Since the in vivo efficacy of this class of antiviral drugs depends on their access to intracellular sites where HIV-1 replicates, we analyzed the biological effects induced by RALT on human MDR cell systems expressing multidrug transporter MDR1-P-glycoprotein (MDR1-Pgp).
Our study about RALT was performed by using a set of consolidated methodologies suitable for evaluating the MDR1-Pgp substrate nature of chemical and biological agents, namely: i) assay of drug efflux function; ii) analysis of MDR reversing capability by using cell proliferation assays; iii) monoclonal antibody UIC2 (mAb) shift test, as a sensitive assay to analyze conformational transition associated with MDR1-Pgp function; and iv) induction of MDR1-Pgp expression in MDR cell variant subjected to RALT exposure.
Functional assays demonstrated that the presence of RALT does not remarkably interfere with the efflux mechanism of CEM-VBL100 and HL60 MDR cells. Accordingly, cell proliferation assays clearly indicated that RALT does not revert MDR phenotype in human MDR1-Pgp expressing cells. Furthermore, exposure of CEM-VBL10 cells to RALT does not induce MDR1-Pgp functional conformation intercepted by monoclonal antibody (mAb) UIC2 binding; nor does exposure to RALT increase the expression of this drug transporter in MDR1-Pgp expressing cells.
No evidence of RALT interaction with human MDR1-Pgp was observed in the in vitro MDR cell systems used in the present investigation, this incorporating all sets of studies recommended by the FDA guidelines. Taken in aggregate, these data suggest that RALT may express its curative potential in all sites were HIV-1 penetrates, including the MDR1-Pgp protected blood/tissue barrier. Moreover RALT, evading MDR1-Pgp drug efflux function, would not interfere with pharmacokinetic profiles of co-administered MDR1-Pgp substrate antiretroviral drugs.
Raltegravir; MDR1-Pgp; Drug substrate; MDR1-Pgp induction; Antiretroviral treatment
Optimized preventive strategies are needed to reach the objective of eliminating pediatric AIDS. This study aimed to define the determinants of residual HIV transmission in the context of maternal antiretroviral therapy (ART) administration to pregnant women, to assess infant safety of this strategy, and to evaluate its impact on maternal disease.
A total of 311 HIV-infected pregnant women were enrolled in Malawi in an observational study and received a nevirapine-based regimen from week 25 of gestation until 6 months after delivery (end of breastfeeding period) if their CD4+ count was > 350/mm3 at baseline (n = 147), or indefinitely if they met the criteria for treatment (n. 164). Mother/child pairs were followed until 2 years after delivery. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate HIV transmission, maternal disease progression, and survival at 24 months. The rate of HIV infant infection was 3.2% [95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.0-5.4]. Six of the 8 transmissions occurred among mothers with baseline CD4+ count > 350/mm3. HIV-free survival of children was 85.8% (95% CI 81.4-90.1). Children born to mothers with baseline CD4+ count < 350/mm3 were at increased risk of death (hazard ratio 2.6, 95% CI 1.1-6.1). Among women who had stopped treatment the risk of progression to CD4+ count < 350/mm3 was 20.6% (95% CI 9.2-31.9) by 18 months of drug discontinuation.
HIV transmission in this cohort was rare however, it occurred in a significative proportion among women with high CD4+ counts. Strategies to improve treatment adherence should be implemented to further reduce HIV transmission. Mortality in the uninfected exposed children was the major determinant of HIV-free survival and was associated to maternal disease stage. Given the considerable proportion of women reaching the criteria for treatment within 18 months of drug discontinuation, life-long ART administration to HIV-infected women should be considered.
Today there are many licensed antiviral drugs, but the emergence of drug resistant strains sometimes invalidates the effects of the current therapies used in the treatment of infectious diseases. Compared to conventional antiviral drugs, monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) used as pharmacological molecules have particular physical characteristics and modes of action, and, therefore, they should be considered as a distinct therapeutic class. Despite being historically validated, antibodies may represent a novel tool for combatting infectious diseases. The current high cost of mAbs' production, storage and administration (by injection only) and the consequent obstacles to development are outweighed by mAbs' clinical advantages. These are related to a low toxicity combined with high specificity and versatility, which allows a specific antibody to mediate various biological effects, ranging from the virus neutralization mechanisms to the modulation of immune responses.
This review briefly summarizes the recent technological advances in the field of immunoglobulin research, and the current status of mAb-based drugs in clinical trials for HIV and HCV diseases. For each clinical trial the available data are reported and the emerging conceptual problems of the employed mAbs are highlighted.
This overview helps to give a clear picture of the efficacy and challenges of the mAbs in the field of these two infectious diseases which have such a global impact.
monoclonal antibodies; mAb-mediated antiviral mechanisms; anti-infectious biological agents; antiviral mAb based therapy; anti-HIV drugs; anti-HCV drugs; clinical studies
Since the identification of HIV and HCV much progress has been made in the understanding of their life cycle and interaction with the host immune system. Despite these viruses markedly differ in their virological properties and in their pathogenesis, they share many common features in their immune escape and survival strategy. Both viruses have developed sophisticated ways to subvert and antagonize host innate and adaptive immune responses. In the last years, much effort has been done in the study of the AIDS pathogenesis and in the development of efficient treatment strategies, and a fatal infection has been transformed in a potentially chronic pathology. Much of this knowledge is now being transferred in the HCV research field, especially in the development of new drugs, although a big difference still remains between the outcome of the two infections, being HCV eradicable after treatment, whereas HIV eradication remains at present unachievable due to the establishment of reservoirs. In this review, we present current knowledge on innate and adaptive immune recognition and activation during HIV and HCV mono-infections and evasion strategies. We also discuss the genetic associations between components of the immune system, the course of infection, and the outcome of the therapies.
Transposable Elements (TEs) comprise nearly 45% of the entire genome and are part of sophisticated regulatory network systems that control developmental processes in normal and pathological conditions. The retroviral/retrotransposon gene machinery consists mainly of Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements (LINEs-1) and Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) that code for their own endogenous reverse transcriptase (RT). Interestingly, RT is typically expressed at high levels in cancer cells. Recent studies report that RT inhibition by non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) induces growth arrest and cell differentiation in vitro and antagonizes growth of human tumors in animal model. In the present study we analyze the anticancer activity of Abacavir (ABC), a nucleoside reverse transcription inhibitor (NRTI), on PC3 and LNCaP prostate cancer cell lines.
ABC significantly reduces cell growth, migration and invasion processes, considerably slows S phase progression, induces senescence and cell death in prostate cancer cells. Consistent with these observations, microarray analysis on PC3 cells shows that ABC induces specific and dose-dependent changes in gene expression, involving multiple cellular pathways. Notably, by quantitative Real-Time PCR we found that LINE-1 ORF1 and ORF2 mRNA levels were significantly up-regulated by ABC treatment.
Our results demonstrate the potential of ABC as anticancer agent able to induce antiproliferative activity and trigger senescence in prostate cancer cells. Noteworthy, we show that ABC elicits up-regulation of LINE-1 expression, suggesting the involvement of these elements in the observed cellular modifications.
Therapeutic strategies aimed at inhibiting human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication employ a combination of drugs targeted to two viral enzymes (reverse transcriptase and protease) and to the viral entry/fusion step. However, the high propensity of HIV-1 to develop resistance makes the development of novel compounds targeting different steps of the HIV-1 life cycle essential. Among these, integrase (IN) inhibitors have successfully passed the early phases of clinical development. By preventing integration, IN inhibitors preclude viral replication while allowing production of extrachromosomal forms of viral DNA (E-DNA). Here, we describe an improved and standardized assay aimed at evaluating IN inhibitors by taking advantage of the transcriptional activity of E-DNA produced by HIV-derived vectors in the absence of replication-competent virus. In this context, the use of the firefly luciferase gene as a reporter gene provides a rapid and quantitative measure of viral-vector infectivity, thus making it a safe and cost-effective assay for evaluating novel IN inhibitors.
The association between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) DNA load and immunologic parameters was investigated in 163 HIV-infected patients with undetectable plasma viremia during highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Patients with HIV DNA below the 25th percentile (133 copies/106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells) had higher pre-HAART (P = 0.001) and current (P = 0.005) CD4 counts and a prolonged duration of treatment (P = 0.001). At adjusted analysis, prolonged duration of treatment was independently associated with lower (P = 0.006) and undetectable (P < 0.001) HIV DNA values.
Whether highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) should be modified in patients with persistent increases in CD4+ T cells despite detectable viral loads is an unresolved question. Forty-three heavily pretreated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients with virologic failure during HAART were studied before a change of therapy guided by genotypic analysis and during follow-up. Patients with an increase in CD4+ cell count (>100 cells/ml) over pre-HAART values were considered to be discordant patients (20 individuals), whereas patients with a lower increase or no increase in CD4+ cell count were considered failing patients (23 individuals). Based on univariate analysis, a high CD4+ cell count before antiretroviral treatment, homosexual behavior as a risk factor for HIV infection, reduced drug exposure to nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, low replicative capacity of HIV isolates, and more frequent detection of HIV isolates with a non-B subtype, an R5 biological phenotype, and M184V and T215Y/F mutations were factors associated with a discordant response to HAART. Based on multivariate analysis, only the M184V mutation remained significantly associated with a viroimmunologic discordant response (odds ratio, 25.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.43 to 453.93). No difference in lamivudine exposure was found between discordant (95%) and failing (91%) patients. Twelve months after the genotypic analysis-guided change of therapy, 3 discordant (15%) and 6 failing patients (26%) achieved undetectable viral loads (<50 copies/ml), whereas in patients with HIV RNA loads of >500 copies/ml, discordant responses were observed in 5 out of 15 discordant patients and in 4 out of 16 failing patients. A relationship between the M184V mutation and a viroimmunologic discordant response to HAART was found. After the genotypic analysis-driven change of therapy, similar rates of virologic suppression were detected in the two groups.
In 32 patients for whom highly active antiretroviral therapy was failing, a good agreement between drug resistance-associated mutations in plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was found (k = 0.85). The mutations with the lowest agreement were 20R, 63P, and 84V in the protease gene and 184V in the reverse transcriptase gene. In eight patients, primary drug resistance mutations were detected only in PBMCs.
The prevalence and the genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of multinucleoside-resistant (MNR) human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) variants in Europe were investigated in a multicenter study that involved centers in nine European countries. Study samples (n = 363) collected between 1991 and 1997 from patients exposed to two or more nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) and 274 control samples from patients exposed to no or one NRTI were screened for two marker mutations of multinucleoside resistance (the Q151M mutation and a mutation with a 2-amino-acid insertion at codon 69, T69S-XX). Q151M was identified in six of the study samples (1.6%), and T69S-XX was identified in two of the study samples (0.5%; both of them T69S-SS), but both patterns were absent among control samples. Non-NRTI (NNRTI)-related changes were observed in viral strains from two patients, which displayed the Q151M resistance pattern, although the patients were NNRTI naive. The patients whose isolates displayed multinucleoside resistance had received treatment with zidovudine and either didanosine, zalcitabine, or stavudine. Both resistance patterns conferred broad cross-resistance to NRTIs in vitro and a poor response to treatment in vivo. MNR HIV-1 is found only among multinucleoside-experienced patients. Its prevalence is low in Europe, but it should be closely monitored since it seriously limits treatment options.
The indinavir dosage regimen currently used for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected children is not based on pharmacokinetic data obtained in the target patient population. The purpose of our study was to characterize indinavir pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in HIV-infected children. Eleven children (age range, 9.0 to 13.6 years; weight range, 21.7 to 56.0 kg) receiving indinavir (500 mg/m2 every 8 h) in combination with lamivudine and stavudine were studied. The correlation of indinavir pharmacokinetic parameters and demographic parameters was evaluated. Also, the pharmacodynamic relationship between parameters of indinavir exposure and parameters of renal toxicity and immunologic recovery was studied. The area under the indinavir concentration-time curve (AUC) and patient body surface area (BSA) showed a significant negative correlation (r = 0.73; P = 0.012). Patients with smaller BSA had excessive indinavir AUC compared to adults. On the other hand, the median minimum drug concentration in plasma (Cmin) was lower than that reported for adults. The maximum indinavir concentration in serum was higher in patients with renal toxicity (5 out of 11 children), but the difference was not statistically significant (15.3 ± 8.2 versus 9.8 ± 4.4 mg/liter; P = 0.19). There was a trend toward higher immunologic efficacy in patients with greater indinavir exposure: the time-averaged AUC of the percentage of CD4+ lymphocytes over the baseline value for patients with indinavir Cmin > 95% inhibitory concentration (IC95) was higher than in patients with Cmin < IC95 (P = 0.068). Our study suggests that a dose reduction may be appropriate for children with small BSA and that a 6-h dosage regimen may be indicated for a substantial percentage of patients. Due to the low number of patients enrolled in this study, our results should be confirmed by a larger study.