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1.  Targeting of Conserved Gag-Epitopes in Early HIV Infection Is Associated with Lower Plasma Viral Load and Slower CD4+ T Cell Depletion 
Abstract
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.
doi:10.1089/aid.2012.0171
PMCID: PMC3581067  PMID: 23140171
2.  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.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiq167
PMCID: PMC3107558  PMID: 21451005
3.  HIV RNA level in early infection is predicted by viral load in the transmission source 
AIDS (London, England)  2010;24(7):941-945.
Objective
HIV-1 viral load in early infection predicts the risk of subsequent disease progression but the factors responsible for the differences between individuals in viral load during this period have not been fully identified. We sought to determine the relationship between HIV-1 RNA levels in the source partner and recently infected recipient partners within transmission pairs.
Methods
We recruited donor partners of persons who presented with acute or recent (< 6 months) HIV infection. Transmission was confirmed by phyologenetic comparison of virus sequence in the donor and recipient partners. We compared viral load in the donor partner and the recipient in the first 6 months of HIV infection.
Results
We identified 24 transmission pairs. The median estimated time from infection to evaluation in acutely/recently infected recipient individuals was 72 days. The viral load in the donor was closely associated with viral load at presentation in the recipient case (r=0.55, P=0.006).
Conclusion
The strong correlation between HIV-1 RNA levels within HIV transmission pairs indicates that virus characteristics are an important determinant of viral load in early HIV infection.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e328337b12e
PMCID: PMC2887742  PMID: 20168202
HIV-1 RNA; acute HIV-1 infection; HIV-1 transmission; viral load set-point; HIV-1 pathogenesis
4.  Transmitted Drug Resistance in Persons with Acute/Early HIV-1 in San Francisco, 2002-2009 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15510.
Background
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015510
PMCID: PMC3000814  PMID: 21170322

Results 1-4 (4)