Incomplete inhibition of HIV infection results in more HIV infected lymph node cells by reducing cell death

Elife. 2018 Mar 20:7:e30134. doi: 10.7554/eLife.30134.


HIV has been reported to be cytotoxic in vitro and in lymph node infection models. Using a computational approach, we found that partial inhibition of transmissions of multiple virions per cell could lead to increased numbers of live infected cells. If the number of viral DNA copies remains above one after inhibition, then eliminating the surplus viral copies reduces cell death. Using a cell line, we observed increased numbers of live infected cells when infection was partially inhibited with the antiretroviral efavirenz or neutralizing antibody. We then used efavirenz at concentrations reported in lymph nodes to inhibit lymph node infection by partially resistant HIV mutants. We observed more live infected lymph node cells, but with fewer HIV DNA copies per cell, relative to no drug. Hence, counterintuitively, limited attenuation of HIV transmission per cell may increase live infected cell numbers in environments where the force of infection is high.

Keywords: HIV induced cell death; Lymph node; cell-to-cell spread; computational biology; human; infectious disease; microbiology; multiple Infections per cell; systems biology; viral fitness; virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Alkynes
  • Benzoxazines / pharmacology*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclopropanes
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / drug effects*
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / drug effects*
  • Lymph Nodes / virology
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Virus Replication / drug effects*
  • Virus Replication / genetics


  • Alkynes
  • Benzoxazines
  • Cyclopropanes
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • efavirenz