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J Infect Dis. 2010 Dec 15;202(12):1846-54. doi: 10.1086/657413. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

The large intestine as a major reservoir for simian immunodeficiency virus in macaques with long-term, nonprogressing infection.

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  • 1Tulane National Primate Research Center, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, Covington, Louisiana 70433, USA.


Although patients with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection who are receiving antiretroviral therapy and those with long-term, nonprogressive infection (LTNPs) usually have undetectable viremia, virus persists in tissue reservoirs throughout infection. However, the distribution and magnitude of viral persistence and replication in tissues has not been adequately examined. Here, we used the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) macaque model to quantify and compare viral RNA and DNA in the small (jejunum) and large (colon) intestine of LTNPs. In LTNPs with chronic infection, the colon had consistently higher viral levels than did the jejunum. The colon also had higher percentages of viral target cells (memory CD4(+) CCR5(+) T cells) and proliferating memory CD4(+) T cells than did the jejunum, whereas markers of cell activation were comparable in both compartments. These data indicate that the large intestine is a major viral reservoir in LTNPs, which may be the result of persistent, latently infected cells and higher turnover of naive and central memory CD4(+) T cells in this major immunologic compartment.

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