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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1995 Oct;11(10):1203-7.

Plasma viremia titration and RNA quantitation in ICD-p24 negative HIV type-1-infected patients.

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Department of Public Health and Cellular Biology, University Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.


Quantitative culture of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was performed on 202 plasma samples obtained from asymptomatic and early symptomatic HIV-1 infected patients (mean CD4+ count: 186/mm3) before antiretroviral therapy was started. HIV could be isolated from 84% of the plasma samples (titers ranging from 10(0) to 10(2.75) TCID50/ml). Immune complex dissociated p24 antigen (ICD-p24) was detected in 66% of the samples. Only 23 samples (11%) were negative for both ICD-p24 as well as HIV culture. Discordant results were obtained in 55 samples, and 45 samples negative for ICD-p24 were positive for HIV culture. A significant proportion (42%) of patients that were negative for ICD-p24 belonged to a very advanced group with very low CD4+ cell count. However, almost 90% of these ICD-p24 negative samples were positive for HIV plasma viremia, stressing the value of this virological marker in patients with low CD4+ cell count and without any detectable ICD-p24 antigenemia. HIV-1 RNA was detected in all ICD-p24 negative plasma samples tested by the branched DNA (bDNA) assay. A very good correlation was found between high RNA copy number and HIV plasma isolation in samples obtained from patients with low CD4+ cell count, suggesting that HIV-1 RNA quantitation may also reflect viral infectivity of plasma.

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