Attempts to find a cure for HIV infection are hindered by the presence of viral reservoirs that resist highly active antiretroviral therapy. To identify the properties of these reservoirs, four SIV239-infected Rhesus macaques were treated with combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) for 1. year. While plasma viral RNA (vRNA) was effectively suppressed, a systemic analysis revealed that vRNA was distributed in the following order: lymphatic tissues > lungs and intestine > other tissues. Histochemistry yielded no cells with viral signals. To increase the chance of detection, two additional SIV-infected animals were treated and analyzed on Day 10 after the cessation of cART. These animals exhibited similar vRNA distribution patterns to the former animals, and immunohistochemistry revealed Nef-positive T lymphocytes predominantly in the follicles of mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs). These data suggest that lymphatic tissues, including MLNs, contain major cellular reservoirs that cause rebound of plasma viremia upon cessation of therapy.
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