Using a system that allows transfection of resting peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) two questions were addressed: the kinetics of HIV replication from the state of proviral latency, and the impact of different parameters on the efficacy of protease inhibitors to control HIV replication. PBLs were transfected with an infectious full length HIV-DNA harboring a luciferase reporter gene and activated thereafter. Ritonavir was added at different times at doses ranging from to 0.06 to 1 microM. Viral expression was assessed by quantifying luciferase activity in cell extracts and levels of p24 HIV antigen in culture supernatants. After transfection and cell activation, intracellular expression of HIV proteins, as assessed by luciferase detection, occurred within 2 hr. HIV-gag p24 antigen was detected in culture supernatants between 6 and 8 hr post-activation. Ritonavir was effective in blocking viral replication when given within 4 hr following HIV reactivation, but a delay in ritonavir administration or breaches in ritonavir levels after 6 hr from transfection resulted in viral escape. HIV reactivation from proviral latency in PBLs is an extremely rapid process, faster than estimated from previous models. These data stress the need for maintaining effective antiretroviral concentrations to block completely viral replication.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.