Chun TW, Nickle DC, Justement JS, Meyers JH, Roby G, Hallahan CW, Kottilil S, Moir S, Mican JM, Mullins JI, Ward DJ, Kovacs JA, Mannon PJ, Fauci AS (2008). Persistence of HIV in gut-associated lymphoid tissue despite long-term antiretroviral therapy. The Journal of infectious diseases, 197(5), 714-20. (pubmed) (doi)
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) persists in peripheral blood mononuclear cells despite sustained, undetectable plasma viremia resulting from long-term antiretroviral therapy. However, the source of persistent HIV in such infected individuals remains unclear. Given recent data suggesting high levels of viral replication and profound depletion of CD4(+) T cells in gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) of animals infected with simian immunodeficiency virus and HIV-infected humans, we sought to determine the level of CD4(+) T cell depletion as well as the degree and extent of HIV persistence in the GALT of infected individuals who had been receiving effective antiviral therapy for prolonged periods of time. We demonstrate incomplete recoveries of CD4(+) T cells in the GALT of aviremic, HIV-infected individuals who had received up to 9.9 years of effective antiretroviral therapy. In addition, we demonstrate higher frequencies of HIV infection in GALT, compared with PBMCs, in these aviremic individuals and provide evidence for cross-infection between these 2 cellular compartments. Together, these data provide a possible mechanism for the maintenance of viral reservoirs revolving around the GALT of HIV-infected individuals despite long-term viral suppression and suggest that the GALT may play a major role in the persistence of HIV in such individuals.