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J Virol. 1996 Jan;70(1):628-34.

Kinetic analysis of intravirion reverse transcription in the blood plasma of human immunodeficiency virus type 1-infected individuals: direct assessment of resistance to reverse transcriptase inhibitors in vivo.

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Dorrance H. Hamilton Laboratories, Department of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


Intravirion reverse transcripts have been identified in the blood plasma of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals. In the present studies, the kinetic processes of intravirion HIV-1 reverse transcription, in the blood plasma of HIV-1-infected persons treated with nevirapine, were investigated. Nevirapine is a nonnucleoside inhibitor of reverse transcriptase (RT) which decreases the level of HIV-1 viral particles in the blood plasma of infected individuals. By analyzing HIV-1 virions at different time points prior to and after initiation of nevirapine therapy in vivo, the levels of intravirion reverse transcripts have been demonstrated to be dramatically susceptible to this anti-RT agent, out of proportion to effects on plasma virion load. The intravirion reverse transcripts were also documented to rebound to the pretreatment levels, concomitant with the development of resistant viral mutants. In addition, the infectivity of HIV-1 virions dramatically decreased after nevirapine treatment, further indicating that the effects of this anti-RT agent begin within the cell-free virions. Since the levels of intravirion reverse transcripts were altered according to the susceptibility or resistance of the HIV-1 RT enzyme to this inhibitor, these data demonstrate that the formation of intravirion reverse transcripts is a dynamic process in vivo. Moreover, because the alteration in ratios between intravirion HIV-1 reverse transcripts and viral genomic RNA directly reflects the efficiency of reverse transcription, we propose that the determination of these ratios in the blood plasma of HIV-1-positive patients may be a useful and, most importantly, a direct assay to monitor the efficacy of anti-RT agents in vivo.

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