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AIDS. 2007 May 11;21(8):905-9.

Testing antiretroviral drug efficacy in conventional mice infected with chimeric HIV-1.

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  • 1Molecular Virology Division, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University Medical Center, New York 10019, USA.



We previously described chimeric HIV-1, EcoHIV, which can infect mouse cells in culture and cause spreading infection in conventional immunocompetant mice. We have now applied this system as a model for preclinical evaluation of anti-retroviral drugs.


We used chimeric virus EcoHIV/NDK constructed on the backbone of subtype D NDK. EcoHIV/NDK expression in mice was characterized 5-10 days after infection by testing viral DNA, RNA, and protein burdens in spleen and macrophages by real-time PCR (QPCR), RT-PCR, and p24 ELISA. For antiviral evaluation, groups of 5-7 mice were pretreated with 2',3'-dideoxycytidine (ddC), abacavir, or vehicle; mice were then infected with EcoHIV/NDK, treatment maintained for additional 48 h, and tested for viral DNA and RNA burdens in spleens and macrophages by QPCR.


EcoHIV/NDK infected mice reproducibly showed viral burdens of up to 1.4 x 10 viral DNA copies and 200 pg p24 per 10 spleen cells and expressed spliced Vif RNA and mature p24 in macrophages 5-10 days after infection. Treatment of mice with 60 or 300 mg ddC/kg/day blocked EcoHIV/NDK infection in a dose-dependent manner with significantly lower viral DNA and RNA burdens at both drug doses (P < 0.001) in the spleens of infected mice. Abacavir tested at 100 mg/kg/day caused 96% inhibition of viral DNA synthesis in spleen and it almost completely abolished viral spliced RNA synthesis in spleens and macrophages.


The system of chimeric HIV-1 infection of mice permits rapid, statistically powerful, and inexpensive evaluation of antiretroviral drugs in vivo.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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