HIV Persists in Gut Tissue After Antiretroviral Use

Study suggests low likelihood of eradication efforts with currently available therapies

FRIDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The human gut is a major reservoir for HIV and the virus stored there appears to be unaffected by highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), according to a report published in the September issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

Peter A. Anton, M.D., of the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues studied 15 HIV-infected subjects who had been treated with HAART for an average of four years and had undetectable plasma HIV-1.

Although the researchers detected HIV-1 RNA in mucosal biopsy specimens from only 20 percent of the subjects, they detected mucosal HIV-1 DNA in 80 percent of the subjects and found no evidence for decay of the HIV-1 DNA in either gut-associated lymphoid tissue or peripheral blood mononuclear cells. They estimated that the total number of concurrent HIV-1 DNA-positive cells was 70,000 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and 160,000 in gut-associated lymphoid tissue.

"Our findings indicate that -- despite prolonged treatment with HAART -- the detected long half-life estimates of HIV-1 DNA in gut-associated lymphoid tissue reflect those seen in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and lymph nodes and further support 'cryptic replication' and the low likelihood of eradication efforts with currently available therapies."

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