Early antiretroviral therapy in SIV-infected rhesus macaques reveals a multiphasic, saturable dynamic accumulation of the rebound competent viral reservoir

PLoS Pathog. 2024 Apr 9;20(4):e1012135. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1012135. eCollection 2024 Apr.


The rebound competent viral reservoir (RCVR)-virus that persists during antiretroviral treatment (ART) and can reignite systemic infection when treatment is stopped-is the primary barrier to eradicating HIV. We used time to initiation of ART during primary infection of rhesus macaques (RMs) after intravenous challenge with barcoded SIVmac239 as a means to elucidate the dynamics of RCVR establishment in groups of RMs by creating a multi-log range of pre-ART viral loads and then assessed viral time-to-rebound and reactivation rates resulting from the discontinuation of ART after one year. RMs started on ART on days 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 or 12 post-infection showed a nearly 10-fold difference in pre-ART viral measurements for successive ART-initiation timepoints. Only 1 of 8 RMs initiating ART on days 3 and 4 rebounded after ART interruption despite measurable pre-ART plasma viremia. Rebounding plasma from the 1 rebounding RM contained only a single barcode lineage detected at day 50 post-ART. All RMs starting ART on days 5 and 6 rebounded between 14- and 50-days post-ART with 1-2 rebounding variants each. RMs starting ART on days 7, 9, and 12 had similar time-to-measurable plasma rebound kinetics despite multiple log differences in pre-ART plasma viral load (pVL), with all RMs rebounding between 7- and 16-days post-ART with 3-28 rebounding lineages. Calculated reactivation rates per pre-ART pVL were highest for RMs starting ART on days 5, 6, and 7 after which the rate of accumulation of the RCVR markedly decreased for RMs treated on days 9 and 12, consistent with multiphasic establishment and near saturation of the RCVR within 2 weeks post infection. Taken together, these data highlight the heterogeneity of the RCVR between RMs, the stochastic establishment of the very early RCVR, and the saturability of the RCVR prior to peak viral infection.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus* / physiology
  • Viral Load
  • Virus Replication


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents