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J Virol. 1998 Jan;72(1):488-96.

Analysis of the temporal relationship between human immunodeficiency virus type 1 quasispecies in sequential blood samples and various organs obtained at autopsy.

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Department of Clinical Viro-Immunology, Central Laboratory of the Netherlands Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service, University of Amsterdam.


We studied the temporal relationship between human immunodeficiency type 1 (HIV-1) quasispecies in tissues and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of infected individuals. Sequential PBMC and tissue samples from various organs obtained at autopsy from three patients who died of AIDS-related complications were available for analysis. Biological HIV-1 clones were isolated from PBMC samples, and cellular tropism and syncytium-inducing (SI) capacity were determined. Genomic DNA was isolated from 1 cm3 of organ tissue, and proviral DNA was amplified by means of PCR and cloned with the PGEM-T vector system. A 185-bp region encompassing the third variable domain of the virus envelope, known to influence HIV-1 biological properties, was sequenced. HIV-1 could be amplified from all PBMC and organ samples, except from liver tissue for two patients. Both SI and non-syncytium-inducing (NSI) genotypes could be detected in the different tissues. Tissue-specific quasispecies were observed in brain, lung, and testis. Lymphoid tissues, such as bone marrow, lymph node, and spleen, harbored several different variants similar to those detected in blood in the last PBMC samples. In general, only tissues in which macrophages are likely to be the main target cell for HIV-1 harbored NSI HIV-1 sequences that clustered separately. Both SI and NSI sequences that clustered with sequences from late-stage PBMC were present in other tissues, which may indicate that the presence of HIV-1 in those tissues is secondary to lymphocyte infiltration rather than to tissue tropism of HIV-1 itself. These data suggest that the viral reservoir may be limited, which will have important implications for the success of HIV-1 eradication.

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