HIV-1 infection is characterized by life-long viral persistence and continued decline of helper CD4 T cells. The new generation of humanized mouse models that encompass RAG-hu, hNOG and BLT mice have been shown to be susceptible to HIV-1 infection and display CD4 T cell loss. Productive infection has been demonstrated with both R5 and X4 tropic strains of HIV-1 via direct injection as well as mucosal exposure. However the duration of infection in these mice was evaluated for a limited time lasting only weeks post infection, and it is not established how long the viremia can be sustained, and if the CD4 T cell loss persists throughout the life of the infected humanized mice. In the present study we followed the HIV-1 infected RAG-hu mice to determine the long-term viral persistence and CD4 T cell levels. Our results showed that viremia persists life-long lasting for more than a year, and that CD4 T cell levels display a continuous declining trend as seen in the human. These studies provide a chronic HIV-1 infection humanized mouse model that can be used to dissect viral latency, long-term drug evaluation and immune-based therapies.
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