Gag p24 Is a Marker of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Expression in Tissues and Correlates With Immune Response

J Infect Dis. 2021 Nov 16;224(9):1593-1598. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiab121.


We demonstrate that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gag p24 protein is more readily detected in gut and lymph node tissues than in blood CD4+ T cells and correlates better with CD4 count during antiretroviral therapy (ART). Gut p24 levels also measurably decline with ART in natural controllers. During ART, gut p24 expression is more strongly associated both with HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell frequency and plasma soluble CD14 levels than gut HIV RNA expression. This study supports using gag p24 as a marker of HIV expression in HIV+ tissues to study effects of viral persistence and to monitor efficacy of treatment in HIV-based clearance studies.

Keywords: HIV; HIV persistence; biomarker; fine needle aspirates; gag p24; lymph nodes; rectal biopsy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biopsy
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Female
  • HIV Core Protein p24 / genetics
  • HIV Core Protein p24 / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / genetics
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • HIV Core Protein p24
  • gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus