Presence of an inducible HIV-1 latent reservoir during highly active antiretroviral therapy

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Nov 25;94(24):13193-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.94.24.13193.


Although highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the form of triple combinations of drugs including protease inhibitors can reduce the plasma viral load of some HIV-1-infected individuals to undetectable levels, it is unclear what the effects of these regimens are on latently infected CD4+ T cells and what role these cells play in the persistence of HIV-1 infection in individuals receiving such treatment. The present study demonstrates that highly purified CD4+ T cells from 13 of 13 patients receiving HAART with an average treatment time of 10 months and with undetectable (<500 copies HIV RNA/ml) plasma viremia by a commonly used bDNA assay carried integrated proviral DNA and were capable of producing infectious virus upon cellular activation in vitro. Phenotypic analysis of HIV-1 produced by activation of latently infected CD4+ T cells revealed the presence in some patients of syncytium-inducing virus. In addition, the presence of unintegrated HIV-1 DNA in infected resting CD4+ T cells from patients receiving HAART, even those with undetectable plasma viremia, suggests persistent active virus replication in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • DNA, Viral
  • Giant Cells
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Virus Latency*
  • Virus Replication


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • DNA, Viral