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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Feb 18;100(4):1908-13. Epub 2003 Jan 27.

Gene expression and viral prodution in latently infected, resting CD4+ T cells in viremic versus aviremic HIV-infected individuals.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immunoregulation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. twchun@nih.gov


The presence of HIV-1 in latently infected, resting CD4(+) T cells has been clearly demonstrated in infected individuals; however, the extent of viral expression and the underlying mechanisms of the persistence of HIV-1 in this viral reservoir have not been fully delineated. Here, we show that resting CD4(+) T cells from the majority of viremic patients are capable of producing cell-free HIV-1 spontaneously ex vivo. The levels of HIV-1 released by resting CD4(+) T cells were not significantly reduced in the presence of inhibitors of cellular proliferation and viral replication. However, resting CD4(+) T cells from the majority of aviremic patients failed to produce virions, despite levels of HIV-1 proviral DNA and cell-associated HIV-1 RNA comparable to viremic patients. The DNA microarray analysis demonstrated that a number of genes involving transcription regulation, RNA processing and modification, and protein trafficking and vesicle transport were significantly upregulated in resting CD4(+) T cells of viremic patients compared to those of aviremic patients. These results suggest that active viral replication has a significant impact on the physiologic state of resting CD4(+) T cells in infected viremic patients and, in turn, allows release of HIV-1 without exogenous activation stimuli. In addition, given that no quantifiable virions were produced by the latent viral reservoir in the majority of aviremic patients despite the presence of cell-associated HIV-1 RNA, evidence for transcription of HIV-1 RNA in resting CD4(+) T cells of aviremic patients should not necessarily be taken as direct evidence for ongoing viral replication during effective therapy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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