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J Theor Biol. 2009 Sep 21;260(2):308-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.06.011. Epub 2009 Jun 17.

Modeling HIV persistence, the latent reservoir, and viral blips.

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Theoretical Biology and Biophysics, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA.


HIV-1 eradication from infected individuals has not been achieved with the prolonged use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). The cellular reservoir for HIV-1 in resting memory CD4(+) T cells remains a major obstacle to viral elimination. The reservoir does not decay significantly over long periods of time but is able to release replication-competent HIV-1 upon cell activation. Residual ongoing viral replication may likely occur in many patients because low levels of virus can be detected in plasma by sensitive assays and transient episodes of viremia, or HIV-1 blips, are often observed in patients even with successful viral suppression for many years. Here we review our current knowledge of the factors contributing to viral persistence, the latent reservoir, and blips, and mathematical models developed to explore them and their relationships. We show how mathematical modeling has helped improve our understanding of HIV-1 dynamics in patients on HAART and of the quantitative events underlying HIV-1 latency, reservoir stability, low-level viremic persistence, and emergence of intermittent viral blips. We also discuss treatment implications related to these studies.

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