The establishment of a long-lived viral reservoir is the key obstacle for achieving an HIV-1 cure. However, the anatomic, virologic, and immunologic features of the viral reservoir in tissues during antiretroviral therapy (ART) remain poorly understood. Here we present a comprehensive necroscopic analysis of the SIV/SHIV viral reservoir in multiple lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues from SIV/SHIV-infected rhesus macaques suppressed with ART for one year. Viral DNA is observed broadly in multiple tissues and is comparable in animals that had initiated ART at week 1 or week 52 of infection. In contrast, viral RNA is restricted primarily to lymph nodes. Ongoing viral RNA transcription is not the result of unsuppressed viral replication, as single-genome amplification and subsequent phylogenetic analysis do not show evidence of viral evolution. Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses are predominantly observed in secondary lymphoid organs in animals chronically infected prior to ART and these responses are dominated by CD69+ populations. Overall, we observe that the viral reservoir in rhesus macaques is widely distributed across multiple tissue sites and that lymphoid tissues act as a site of persistent viral RNA transcription under conditions of long-term ART suppression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)