Persistent HIV-1 transcription in CD4+ T cells from ART-suppressed individuals can originate from biologically competent proviruses

M. Vignoles, V. Andrade, M. Noguera, C. Brander, C. Mavian, M. Salemi, R. Paredes, M. Sharkey, M. Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


HIV-1 is able to persist in the face of potent antiretroviral therapy (ART). A number of strategies are being explored to allow ART-free viral remission or viral eradication. In order to gauge the progress of these strategies, assays with which to measure viral reservoir size and activity are needed. In a large percentage of aviremic individuals on suppressive ART, viral transcripts can be detected in peripheral blood CD4+ T cells. While this cell-associated RNA has been considered as a marker of viral reservoir activity, it is unclear whether cell-associated viral transcripts in aviremic individuals originate from biologically competent proviruses as opposed to being a product of abortive transcription from defective proviruses. We assessed whether cell-associated viral RNA in peripheral blood CD4+ T cells from aviremic individuals on ART originated from biologically competent proviruses. We demonstrate that cell-associated viral RNA transcripts were highly related to viral sequences obtained by ex vivo outgrowth. This relationship was also observed when viral transcription in the outgrowth cultures was limited to donor CD4+ T cells. Our study indicates that cell-associated viral RNA warrants further consideration as a viral reservoir surrogate in individuals on suppressive ART.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100053
JournalJournal of Virus Eradication
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Cell-associated RNA
  • HIV-1
  • Viral reservoir surrogate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Immunology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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