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Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2016 Jul;11(4):432-41. doi: 10.1097/COH.0000000000000290.

Animal models to achieve an HIV cure.

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aYerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA bEmory Vaccine Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329; USA cDepartment of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA dDepartment of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.



The introduction of effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) has transformed HIV infection from a deadly to a chronic infection. Despite its successes in reducing mortality, ART fails to cure HIV allowing HIV to persist in vivo. HIV persistence under ART is thought to be mediated by a combination of latent infection of long-lived cells, homeostatic proliferation of latently infected cells, anatomic sanctuaries, and low-level virus replication. To understand the contribution of specific cell types and anatomic sites to virus persistence in vivo animal models are necessary.


The advancements in ART and our understanding of animal models have facilitated the development of models of HIV persistence in nonhuman primates and mice. Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) or simian/HIV infection (SHIV) of rhesus and pigtail macaques followed by effective ART represents the most faithful animal model of HIV persistence. HIV infection of humanized mice also provides a useful model for answering specific questions regarding virus persistence in a uniquely mutable system.


In this review, we describe the most recent findings using animal models of HIV persistence. We will first describe the important aspects of HIV infection that SIV/SHIV infection of nonhuman primates are able to recapitulate, then we will discuss some recent studies that have used these models to understand viral persistence.

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