PLoS Pathog 2019 10 14;15(10):e1008074. Epub 2019 Oct 14.
Department of Pediatrics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.
Studies have demonstrated that intensive ART alone is not capable of eradicating HIV-1, as the virus rebounds within a few weeks upon treatment interruption. Viral rebound may be induced from several cellular subsets; however, the majority of proviral DNA has been found in antigen experienced resting CD4+ T cells. To achieve a cure for HIV-1, eradication strategies depend upon both understanding mechanisms that drive HIV-1 persistence as well as sensitive assays to measure the frequency of infected cells after therapeutic interventions. Assays such as the quantitative viral outgrowth assay (QVOA) measure HIV-1 persistence during ART by ex vivo activation of resting CD4+ T cells to induce latency reversal; however, recent studies have shown that only a fraction of replication-competent viruses are inducible by primary mitogen stimulation. Previous studies have shown a correlation between the acquisition of effector memory phenotype and HIV-1 latency reversal in quiescent CD4+ T cell subsets that harbor the reservoir. Here, we apply our mechanistic understanding that differentiation into effector memory CD4+ T cells more effectively promotes HIV-1 latency reversal to significantly improve proviral measurements in the QVOA, termed differentiation QVOA (dQVOA), which reveals a significantly higher frequency of the inducible HIV-1 replication-competent reservoir in resting CD4+ T cells.