Mullins Molecular Retrovirology Lab

  • Department of Microbiology
  • School of Medicine
  • University of Washington
University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research

Citation Information

Zhu T, Muthui D, Holte S, Nickle D, Feng F, Brodie S, Hwangbo Y, Mullins JI, Corey L (2002). Evidence for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication in vivo in CD14(+) monocytes and its potential role as a source of virus in patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy. Journal of virology, 76(2), 707-16. (pubmed)


In vitro studies show that human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) does not replicate in freshly isolated monocytes unless monocytes differentiate to monocyte-derived macrophages. Similarly, HIV-1 may replicate in macrophages in vivo, whereas it is unclear whether blood monocytes are permissive to productive infection with HIV-1. We investigated HIV-1 replication in CD14(+) monocytes and resting and activated CD4(+) T cells by measuring the levels of cell-associated viral DNA and mRNA and the genetic evolution of HIV-1 in seven acutely infected patients whose plasma viremia had been <100 copies/ml for 803 to 1,544 days during highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). HIV-1 DNA was detected in CD14(+) monocytes as well as in activated and resting CD4(+) T cells throughout the course of study. While significant variation in the decay slopes of HIV-1 DNA was seen among individual patients, viral decay in CD14(+) monocytes was on average slower than that in activated and resting CD4(+) T cells. Measurements of HIV-1 sequence evolution and the concentrations of unspliced and multiply spliced mRNA provided evidence of ongoing HIV-1 replication, more pronounced in CD14(+) monocytes than in resting CD4(+) T cells. Phylogenetic analyses of HIV-1 sequences indicated that after prolonged HAART, viral populations related or identical to those found only in CD14(+) monocytes were seen in plasma from three of the seven patients. In the other four patients, HIV-1 sequences in plasma and the three cell populations were identical. CD14(+) monocytes appear to be one of the potential in vivo sources of HIV-1 in patients receiving HAART.