Evidence for sporadic low-level HIV replication on ART

Richard Jefferys, TAG

Una O’Doherty’s research group at the University of Pennsylvania has pioneered the development of tests to measure HIV DNA that is integrated into the genome of cells.

The integration of HIV DNA presents a formidable obstacle to curing HIV infection, because it leads to the formation of a stable reservoir of infected cells that antiretroviral therapies cannot eradicate. HIV DNA can also exist in cells in an unintegrated form, but evidence indicates that this form degrades rapidly and does not persist.

In a new paper in the journal Virology, O’Doherty and colleagues describe analyses designed to assess levels of unintegrated vs. integrated HIV DNA in a small group of individuals on ART with viral loads less than 75 copies for at least a year. The researchers report that three out of seven study participants showed sporadic excesses of the unintegrated form of HIV DNA compared to integrated DNA.

They note that this result may indicate that a subset of individuals on ART experience sporadic low-level viral replication, which could contribute to the replenishment of their HIV reservoir. If confirmed, the findings will need to be taken into account by scientists working on approaches to curing HIV infection.

Source: TAG basic science blog. (15 November 2010).


Agosto LM et al. Patients on HAART often have an excess of unintegrated HIV DNA: Implications for monitoring reservoirs. Virology. 2010 Oct 20. [Epub
ahead of print].

Links to other websites are current at date of posting but not maintained.