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HIV Med. 2000 Oct;1(4):205-11.

Proviral HIV-1 dynamics and evolution in patients receiving efficient long-term antiretroviral combination therapy.

Author information

1
Divisions of Clinical Virology and Infectious Diseases, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden. markus.birk@impi.ki.se

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Different experimental approaches have shown that, despite plasma viral loads under the threshold of detection, HIV-1 frequently continues to replicate in patients receiving potent antiretroviral therapy. However, whether this low-grade viral replication is sufficient for the generation of new major quasispecies has not been studied. Thus, in order to evaluate the extent of variation in the major proviral HIV-1 population, we monitored proviral DNA sequences in such patients over a time period of up to 30 months.

METHODS:

DNA was extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and the V3 region was amplified by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and directly sequenced. Additionally, both HIV-1 RNA and DNA levels and CD4+ T-lymphocyte counts were monitored.

RESULTS:

Analysing the V3 gene sequences of 17 patients, we observed a sequence evolution in nine patients. Interestingly, the majority of these changes (77%) occurred in the first interval following the initiation of therapy and despite signs of ongoing replication the proviral DNA levels continued to decrease in all patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our data suggest that, although available data report that HIV-1 continues to replicate in patients with undetectable viraemia, the extent of viral replication in many of these patients is not sufficient to result in changes in the major viral population.

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