HIV hides soon after infection, research shows

May 30, 2012 By Lisa Chensvold
HIV-infected T-cells. Credit: NIAID

(Medical Xpress) -- A team of researchers led by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine has demonstrated that latency develops soon after infection and slows when antiretroviral therapy is given.

While current therapies are effective at controlling HIV, some virus remains hidden in certain CD4+ T cells, specialized that the virus uses to replicate. This latent infection remains a significant challenge to curing HIV.

A team of researchers led by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine has demonstrated that develops soon after infection and slows when antiretroviral therapy is given.

The results were published today online in the early edition of .

The team studied 27 patients with acute HIV infection (AHI). AHI occurs soon after exposure, when virus is found in but are not yet detectible. All but one of the patients studied had been infected in the last 45 days. The study team developed a to predict how often latent cells were infected based on when ART was started. They found that early treatment reduced the production of latently infected cells.

In addition, the researchers found that there are two types of latently infected cells, one short-lived, but another extremely durable, what the authors refer to as a “deep” latent infection. “We found that decayed in some patients, but that all had a few deeply latent infected cells,” said David Margolis, MD, professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, and epidemiology at UNC and senior author on the study. “These are the cells that we must eliminate to cure infection.”

The team made other hopeful observations. “The immune response of some patients appear to play a role in limiting the size of the latent reservoir,” said Nancie Archin, PhD, the study’s lead author and a research scientist at the medical school. “Efforts to improve the immune response to prevent HIV infection may also teach us to eradicate it.”

The research was conducted through the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and as part of a UNC-led consortium, the Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication (CARE), funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The consortium is administered by the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute at UNC, one of 60 medical research institutions in the US working to improve biomedical research through the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program.

Explore further: Researchers' new goal: Drug-free remission for HIV infection

Related Stories

Researchers' new goal: Drug-free remission for HIV infection

March 5, 2009

A group including leading academic and industry scientists has issued a challenge to researchers in the field of HIV/AIDS: find a way to effectively purge latent HIV infection and eliminate the need for chronic, suppressive ...

Bone marrow can harbor HIV-infected cells (w/ Video)

March 7, 2010

University of Michigan scientists have identified a new reservoir for hidden HIV-infected cells that can serve as a factory for new infections. The findings, which appear online March 7 in Nature Medicine, indicate a new ...

Ridding the human body of HIV

December 2, 2010

A new Northwestern Medicine study will undertake a bold new protocol to completely eradicate latent HIV cells that current drugs don't affect. Participants, with diagnosed HIV, in the experimental group will be given an investigational ...

Drug helps purge hidden HIV virus, study shows

March 8, 2012

A team of researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have successfully flushed latent HIV infection from hiding, with a drug used to treat certain types of lymphoma.

Recommended for you

Mutational tug of war over HIV's disease-inducing potential

August 23, 2016

A study from Emory AIDS researchers shows how the expected disease severity when someone is newly infected by HIV reflects a balance between the virus' invisibility to the host's immune system and its ability to reproduce.

Dormant copies of HIV mostly defective, new study shows

August 8, 2016

After fully sequencing the latent HIV "provirus" genomes from 19 people being treated for HIV, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that even in patients who start treatment very early, the only widely available method ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.