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J Infect Dis. 2004 Jul 15;190(2):251-6. Epub 2004 Jun 18.

Higher CD4+ T cell counts associated with low viral pol replication capacity among treatment-naive adults in early HIV-1 infection.

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Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, University of California, San Francisco, USA.



Infection with primary drug-resistant human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has been associated with higher CD4(+) T cell counts in drug-naive patients, suggesting that altered viral pol replication capacity (RC) associated with drug resistance diminishes immune injury in vivo, independent of exposure to drugs.


Virus replication over a single cycle was measured by use of a viral test vector containing patient-derived HIV-1 protease and reverse transcriptase gene segments.


Among 191 recently infected patients, pol RC ranged widely, with only 6% of the variance explained by drug-resistance mutations. Patients infected with a virus with a low pol RC (</=43% of the reference virus) had significantly higher CD4(+) T cell counts at study entry, independent of drug resistance and plasma HIV-1 RNA level, and over time, both before and during combination antiretroviral therapy.


Viral pol RC may influence HIV-1 disease progression by affecting the amount and tissue distribution of viral replication. The pol RC value of 43% may represent a threshold below which HIV-1 has lowered virulence and is less able to deplete CD4(+) T cell counts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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