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Rapid Turnover of 2-LTR HIV-1 DNA during Early Stage of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy
Published: Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Author: Weijun Zhu et al.

by Weijun Zhu, Yanmei Jiao, Rongyue Lei, Wei Hua, Rui Wang, Yunxia Ji, Zhiying Liu, Feili Wei, Tong Zhang, Xuanlin Shi, Hao Wu, Linqi Zhang


Despite prolonged treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the infectious HIV-1 continues to replicate and resides latently in the resting memory CD4+ T lymphocytes, which blocks the eradication of HIV-1. The viral persistence of HIV-1 is mainly caused by its proviral DNA being either linear nonintegrated, circular nonintegrated, or integrated. Previous reports have largely focused on the dynamics of HIV-1 DNA from the samples collected with relatively long time intervals during the process of disease and HAART treatment, which may have missed the intricate changes during the intervals in early treatment.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In this study, we investigated the dynamics of HIV-1 DNA in patients during the early phase of HARRT treatment. Using optimized real time PCR, we observed significant changes in 2-LTR during the first 12-week of treatment, while total and integrated HIV-1 DNA remained stable. The doubling time and half-life of 2-LTR were not correlated with the baseline and the rate of changes in plasma viral load and various CD4+ T-cell populations. Longitudinal analyses on 2-LTR sequences and plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) levels did not reveal any significant changes in the same treatment period.


Our study revealed the rapid changes in 2-LTR concentration in a relatively large number of patients during the early HAART treatment. The rapid changes indicate the rapid infusion and clearance of cells bearing 2-LTR in the peripheral blood. Those changes are not expected to be caused by the blocking of viral integration, as our study did not include the integrase inhibitor raltegravir. Our study helps better understand the dynamics of HIV-DNA and its potential role as a biomarker for the diseases and for the treatment efficacy of HAART.