CD4 T cell nadir independently predicts the magnitude of the HIV reservoir after prolonged suppressive antiretroviral therapy

Mohamed Rachid Boulassel, Nicolas Chomont, Nitika Pant Pai, Norbert Gilmore, Rafick Pierre Sékaly, Jean Pierre Routy

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Background: The level of HIV-1 integrated DNA in CD4 T cells was reported to predict the evolution of untreated HIV-1 infection independently of CD4 cell counts or plasma HIV-1 RNA levels. However, the relevance of reservoir level while on efficient antiretroviral therapy (ART) is still unknown. Objectives: To evaluate factors that may contribute to the establishment and maintenance of HIV-1 reservoir size in ART-treated HIV-1-infected adults with complete suppression of viremia. Study design: 35 subjects receiving ART with plasma HIV-1 RNA below the limit of detection for an average duration of 3.2 years were studied. A highly sensitive PCR was used to assess HIV-1 integrated DNA levels in sorted CD4 T cells. Results: The mean HIV-1 integrated DNA was 300±7copies/10 6 CD4 cells (range 10-1408). In univariate analysis, the levels of HIV-1 proviral DNA appeared to be independent of duration of HIV-1-infection, duration on ART, time since HIV-1 viral load was undetectable, delay between HIV-1 infection and starting ART, or viral load before starting ART. Conversely, CD4 T cell nadir, CD4/CD8 ratio and, to lesser degree, CD4 T cell counts were inversely associated with HIV-1 proviral DNA levels. In multivariate analysis, only CD4 T cell nadir significantly predicted levels of HIV-1 proviral DNA (P=0.025). Conclusions: CD4 T cell nadir strongly predicted reservoir size independently of other factors in HIV-1-infected adults with complete suppression of viremia. Collectively, these results indicate that the extent of CD4 T cell depletion before ART drives the size of the viral reservoir after prolonged therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-32
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012



  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • HIV-1
  • Nadir CD4 T cells
  • Reservoir

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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