Scientists have shown that a class of immune cells not thought to be a primary reservoir for HIV can harbor the virus even following antiretroviral treatment (ART). The persistence of HIV in this type of cell—macrophages—means that treatment to eradicate HIV will have to target these cells in addition to those already demonstrated to have a role in the rebounding of HIV if ART is stopped.
Jenna Honeycutt, Ph.D., and J. Victor Garcia, Ph.D., at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with scientists at several collaborating centers, conducted this work. An important element of the work was the development of a mouse model in which the immune system is generated from human cells. The mice in this work have macrophages but no human T cells, which are a primary target of and reservoir for HIV; the absence of T cells enabled the team to establish the persistence of HIV in macrophages.
The study is reported in the journal Nature Medicine, online April 17; it was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. NIMH’s Division of AIDS Research supports a broad range of studies on HIV/AIDS, including research aimed at understanding and alleviating the consequences of HIV infection of the central nervous system.
For more information, see a press release from the University of North Carolina Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases.
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