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Original Article

Shifts in cell-associated HIV-1 RNA but not in episomal HIV-1 DNA correlate with new cycles of HIV-1 infection in vivo

Marek Fischer, Alexandra Trkola, Beda Joos, Roland Hafner, Helen Joller, Mark A Muesing, David R Kaufman, Esther Berli, Bernard Hirschel, Rainer Weber, Huldrych F Günthard, the Swiss HIV-1 Cohort Study

Corresponding author name: Marek Fischer
Corresponding author e-mail: marek.fischer@usz.ch

Citation: Antiviral Therapy 2003; 8:97-104

Abstract

The significance of distinct classes of HIV-1 nucleic acids as correlates of recent HIV-1 replication was assessed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) obtained from 14 patients during 2 weeks of structured interruption of antiretroviral therapy (STI) and 2 weeks of resuming therapy. Levels of HIV RNA in plasma (HIV-RNAplasma) and of unspliced cell-associated HIV-1 RNA (HIV-UsRNAPBMC) were significantly increased as a result of STI, whereas no significant shifts in the levels of 2-LTR episomal HIV-1 DNA (2-LTR circles) and total late HIV-1 reverse transcripts (late-DNA) were observed. Thus, limited viral replication had occurred, which had no effect on the pool size of infected cells in the periphery. Levels of 2-LTR circles did not reflect rapid changes in HIV-1 replication. In contrast, expression of HIV-UsRNAPBMC increased during STI and consequently provides a more sensitive, albeit not absolute cellular marker of ongoing HIV-1 replication.

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