Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can suppress HIV replication to undetectable levels in plasma, but it is unlikely to eradicate cellular reservoirs of virus. Immunotherapies that are cytolytic may be useful adjuncts to drug therapies that target HIV replication. We have generated HIV-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells bearing a chimeric T-cell receptor (CD4zeta) composed of the extracellular and transmembrane domain of human CD4 (which binds HIVgp120) linked to the intracellular-zeta signaling chain of the CD3 T-cell receptor. CD4zeta-modified T cells can inhibit viral replication, kill HIV-infected cells in vitro, and survive for prolonged periods in vivo. We report the results of a phase II randomized trial of CD4zeta gene-modified versus unmodified T cells in 40 HIV-infected subjects on HAART with plasma viral loads <50 copies/ml. Serial analyses of residual blood and tissue HIV reservoirs were done for 6 months postinfusion. No significant between-group differences were noted in viral reservoirs following therapy. However, infusion of gene-modified, but not unmodified, T cells was associated with a decrease from baseline in HIV burden in two of four reservoir assays and a trend toward fewer patients with recurrent viremia. Both groups experienced a treatment-related increase in CD4(+) T-cell counts.
(c)2002 Elsevier Science (USA).