Ultrasensitive HIV-1 p24 Assay Detects Single Infected Cells and Differences in Reservoir Induction by Latency Reversal Agents.
ABSTRACT: The existence of HIV reservoirs in infected individuals under combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) represents a major obstacle toward cure. Viral reservoirs are assessed by quantification of HIV nucleic acids, a method which does not discriminate between infectious and defective viruses, or by viral outgrowth assays, which require large numbers of cells and long-term cultures. Here, we used an ultrasensitive p24 digital assay, which we report to be 1,000-fold more sensitive than classical enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) in the quantification of HIV-1 Gag p24 production in samples from HIV-infected individuals. Results from ultrasensitive p24 assays were compared to those from conventional viral RNA reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR)-based assays and from outgrowth assay readout by flow cytometry. Using serial dilutions and flow-based single-cell sorting, we show that viral proteins produced by a single infected cell can be detected by the ultrasensitive p24 assay. This unique sensitivity allowed the early (as soon as day 1 in 43% of cases) and more efficient detection and quantification of p24 in phytohemagglutinin-L (PHA)-stimulated CD4+ T cells from individuals under effective cART. When seven different classes of latency reversal agents (LRA) in resting CD4+ T cells from HIV-infected individuals were tested, the ultrasensitive p24 assay revealed differences in the extent of HIV reactivation. Of note, HIV RNA production was infrequently accompanied by p24 protein production (19%). Among the drugs tested, prostratin showed a superior capacity in inducing viral protein production. In summary, the ultrasensitive p24 assay allows the detection and quantification of p24 produced by single infected CD4+ T cells and provides a unique tool to assess early reactivation of infectious virus from reservoirs in HIV-infected individuals.IMPORTANCE The persistence of HIV reservoirs in infected individuals under effective antiretroviral treatment represents a major obstacle toward cure. Different methods to estimate HIV reservoirs exist, but there is currently no optimal assay to measure HIV reservoirs in HIV eradication interventions. In the present study, we report an ultrasensitive digital ELISA platform for quantification of the HIV-1 protein p24. This method was employed to assess the early reactivation of infectious virus from reservoirs in HIV-1-infected individuals. We found that viral proteins produced by a single infected cell can be detected by an ultrasensitive p24 assay. This unprecedented resolution showed major advantages in comparison to other techniques currently used to assess viral replication in reactivation studies. In addition, such a highly sensitive assay allows discrimination of drug-induced reactivation of productive HIV based on protein expression. The present study heralds new opportunities to evaluate the HIV reservoir and the efficacy of drugs used to target it.
Project description:Although effective for suppressing viral replication, combination antiretroviral treatment (cART) does not represent definitive therapy for HIV infection due to persistence of replication-competent viral reservoirs. The advent of effective cART regimens for simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected nonhuman primates (NHP) has enabled the development of relevant models for studying viral reservoirs and intervention strategies targeting them. Viral reservoir measurements are crucial for such studies but are problematic. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays overestimate the size of the replication competent viral reservoir, as not all detected viral genomes are intact. Quantitative viral outgrowth assays measure replication competence, but they suffer from limited precision and dynamic range, and require large numbers of cells. Ex vivo virus induction assays to detect cells harboring inducible virus represent an experimental middle ground, but detection of inducible viral RNA in such assays does not necessarily indicate production of virions, while detection of more immunologically relevant viral proteins, including p27CA, by conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) lacks sensitivity. An ultrasensitive digital SIV Gag p27 assay was developed, which is 100-fold more sensitive than a conventional ELISA. In ex vivo virus induction assays, the quantification of SIV Gag p27 produced by stimulated CD4+ T cells from rhesus macaques receiving cART enabled earlier and more sensitive detection than conventional ELISA-based approaches and was highly correlated with SIV RNA, as measured by quantitative reverse transcription PCR. This ultrasensitive p27 assay provides a new tool to assess ongoing replication and reactivation of infectious virus from reservoirs in SIV-infected NHP.
Project description:PURPOSE OF REVIEW:Despite the success of antiretroviral therapy in suppressing HIV, life-long therapy is required to avoid HIV reactivation from long-lived viral reservoirs. Currently, there is intense interest in searching for therapeutic interventions that can purge the viral reservoir to achieve complete remission in HIV patients off antiretroviral therapy. The evaluation of such interventions relies on our ability to accurately and precisely measure the true size of the viral reservoir. In this review, we assess the most commonly used HIV reservoir assays, as a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each is vital for the accurate interpretation of results and for the development of improved assays. RECENT FINDINGS:The quantification of intracellular or plasma HIV RNA or DNA levels remains the most commonly used tests for the characterization of the viral reservoir. While cost-effective and high-throughput, these assays are not able to differentiate between replication-competent or defective fractions or quantify the number of infected cells. Viral outgrowth assays provide a lower bound for the fraction of cells that can produce infectious virus, but these assays are laborious, expensive and substantially underestimate the potential reservoir of replication-competent provirus. Newer assays are now available that seek to overcome some of these problems, including full-length proviral sequencing, inducible HIV RNA assays, ultrasensitive p24 assays and murine adoptive transfer techniques. The development and evaluation of strategies for HIV remission rely upon our ability to accurately and precisely quantify the size of the remaining viral reservoir. At this time, all current HIV reservoir assays have drawbacks such that combinations of assays are generally needed to gain a more comprehensive view of the viral reservoir. The development of novel, rapid, high-throughput assays that can sensitively quantify the levels of the replication-competent HIV reservoir is still needed.
Project description:Latent HIV reservoirs in infected individuals prevent current treatment from eradicating infection. Treatment strategies against latency involve adjuvants for viral reactivation which exposes viral particles to antiretroviral drugs. In this study, the effect of novel triterpenoids isolated from Ocimum labiatum on HIV-1 expression was measured through HIV-1 p24 antigen capture in the U1 latency model of HIV-1 infection and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of infected patients on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). The mechanism of viral reactivation was determined through the compound's effect on cytokine production, histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition, and protein kinase C (PKC) activation. Cytotoxicity of the triterpenoids was determined using a tetrazolium dye and flow cytometry. The isolated triterpene isomers, 3-hydroxy-4,6a,6b,11,12,14b-hexamethyl-1,2,3,4,6,6a,6b,7,8,8a,9,10,11,12,12a,14,14a,14b-octadecahydropicene-4,8a-dicarboxylic acid (HHODC), significantly (p < 0.05) induced HIV-1 expression in a dose-dependent manner in U1 cells at non-cytotoxic concentrations. HHODC also induced viral expression in PBMCs of HIV-1 infected patients on cART. In addition, the compound up-regulated the production of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-6, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-?, and interferon (IFN)-? but had no effect on HDAC and PKC activity, suggesting cytokine upregulation as being involved in latency activation. The observed in vitro reactivation of HIV-1 introduces the adjuvant potential of HHODC for the first time here.
Project description:The phenotypic characterization of the cells in which HIV persists during antiretroviral therapy (ART) remains technically challenging. We developed a simple flow cytometry-based assay to quantify and characterize infected cells producing HIV proteins during untreated and treated HIV infection. By combining two antibodies targeting the HIV capsid in a standard intracellular staining protocol, we demonstrate that p24-producing cells can be detected with high specificity and sensitivity in the blood from people living with HIV. In untreated individuals, the frequency of productively infected cells strongly correlated with plasma viral load. Infected cells preferentially displayed a transitional memory phenotype and were enriched in Th17, peripheral Tfh and regulatory T cells subsets. These cells also preferentially expressed activation markers (CD25, HLA-DR, Ki67), immune checkpoint molecules (PD-1, LAG-3, TIGIT, Tim-3) as well as the integrins ?4?7 and ?4?1. In virally suppressed individuals on ART, p24-producing cells were only detected upon stimulation (median frequency of 4.3 p24+ cells/106 cells). These measures correlated with other assays assessing the size of the persistent reservoir including total and integrated HIV DNA, Tat/rev Induced Limiting Dilution Assay (TILDA) and quantitative viral outgrowth assay (QVOA). In ART-suppressed individuals, p24-producing cells preferentially displayed a transitional and effector memory phenotype, and expressed immune checkpoint molecules (PD-1, TIGIT) as well as the integrin ?4?1. Remarkably, ?4?1 was expressed by more than 70% of infected cells both in untreated and ART-suppressed individuals. Altogether, these results highlight a broad diversity in the phenotypes of HIV-infected cells in treated and untreated infection and suggest that strategies targeting multiple and phenotypically distinct cellular reservoirs will be needed to exert a significant impact on the size of the reservoir.
Project description:GB virus C (GBV-C) coinfection is associated with reduced immune activation and a block in CD4(+) T-cell proliferation following interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy in HIV-infected individuals. We examined peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from HIV-infected subjects with and without GBV-C viraemia to determine if GBV-C correlated with reactivation of latent HIV, T-cell proliferation or T-cell survival following in vitro activation with phytohaemagglutinin A and IL-2 (PHA/IL-2).HIV-infected subjects whose HIV viral load was suppressed on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) for >6 months were studied. PBMCs were cultured with and without PHA/IL-2 and monitored for HIV reactivation, proliferation and survival. GBV-C viraemia and in vitro replication were detected by real-time RT-PCR. HIV reactivation was determined by measuring HIV p24 antigen in culture supernatants. Proliferation was measured by counting viable cells and survival measured by flow cytometry.Of 49 HIV-infected individuals, 26 had GBV-C viraemia. Significantly less HIV reactivation and PBMC proliferation following in vitro activation with PHA/IL-2 was observed in samples from GBV-C viraemic subjects compared with non-viraemic controls. Following 5 weeks in culture, GBV-C replication was associated with preservation of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cells compared with non-viraemic controls.GBV-C appears to inhibit immune activation and IL-2 signalling pathways, which might contribute to a reduction in reactivation of latent HIV from cellular reservoirs. In addition, GBV-C viraemia was associated with a reduction in activation-induced T-cell death. GBV-C-associated T-cell effects could contribute to the observed protective effect of GBV-C coinfection in HIV-infected individuals.
Project description:Latency-reversing agents (LRAs) are considered a potential strategy for curing cells of HIV-1 infection. Certain protein kinase C (PKC) activators have been previously reported to be LRAs because they can reverse HIV latency. In the present study, we examined the activities of a panel of benzolactam derivatives against cells latently infected with HIV. Using determination of p24 antigen in cell supernatants or altered intracellular GFP expression to measure HIV reactivation from latently infected cells along with a cytotoxicity assay, we found that some of the compounds exhibited latency-reversing activity, which was followed by enhanced release of HIV particles from the cells. One derivative, BL-V8-310, displayed activity in ACH-2 and J-Lat cells latently infected with HIV at a concentration of 10 nm or higher, which was superior to the activity of another highly active PKC activator, prostratin. These results were confirmed with peripheral blood cells from HIV-infected patients. We also found that these drugs up-regulate the expression of caspase 3 and enhance apoptosis specifically in latently HIV-infected cells. Moreover, combining BL-V8-310 with a bromodomain-containing 4 (BRD4) inhibitor, JQ1, not only enhanced HIV latency-reversing activity, but also reduced the effect on cytotoxic cytokine secretion from CD4+ T-cells induced by BL-V8-310 alone. Our results suggest that BL-V8-310 and its related benzolactam derivatives are potential LRA lead compounds that are effective in reversing HIV latency and reducing viral reservoirs in HIV-positive individuals with few adverse effects.
Project description:In this study, we examined the peripheral blood (PB) central memory (TCM) CD4(+) T cell subsets designated peripheral T follicular helper cells (pTfh cells) and non-pTfh cells to assess HIV permissiveness and persistence. Purified pTfh and non-pTfh cells from healthy HIV-negative donors were tested for HIV permissiveness using green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing HIV-1NL4-3/Ba-L, followed by viral reactivation using beads coated with anti-CD3/anti-CD28 monoclonal antibodies. The role of pTfh cells in HIV persistence was analyzed in 12 chronically HIV-1 infected patients before and 48 weeks after initiation of raltegravir-containing combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Total cellular HIV-1 DNA and episomes containing two copies of the viral long terminal repeat (2LTR circles) were analyzed in using droplet digital PCR in the purified pTfh and non-pTfh cells. Activation-inducible HIV p24 expression was determined by flow cytometry. Results indicate that pTfh cells, in particular PD1(+) pTfh cells, showed greater permissiveness for HIV infection than non-pTfh cells. At week 48 on cART, HIV DNA levels were unchanged from pre-cART levels, although a significant decrease in 2LTR circles was observed in both cell subsets. Inducible HIV p24 expression was higher in pTfh cells than in non-pTfh cells, with the highest frequencies in the PD1(+) CXCR3(-) pTfh cell subset. Frequencies of HLADR(+) CD38(+) activated CD4 T cells correlated with 2LTR circles in pTfh and non-pTfh cells at both time points and with p24(+) cells at entry. In conclusion, among CD4 TCM cells in PB of aviremic patients on cART, pTfh cells, in particular the PD1(+) CXCR3(-) subset, constitute a major HIV reservoir that is sustained by ongoing residual immune activation. The inducible HIV p24 assay is useful for monitoring HIV reservoirs in defined CD4 T cell subsets.Identification of the type and nature of the cellular compartments of circulating HIV reservoirs is important for targeting of HIV cure strategies. In lymph nodes (LN), a subset of CD4 T cells called T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are preferentially infected by HIV. Central memory (TCM) CD4 T cells are the major cellular reservoir for HIV in peripheral blood and contain a subset of CD4 TCM cells expressing chemokine receptor CXCR5 similar in function to LN Tfh cells termed peripheral Tfh (pTfh) cells. We found that the circulating pTfh cells are highly susceptible to HIV infection and that in HIV-infected patients, HIV persists in these cells following plasma virus suppression with potent cART. These pTfh cells, which constitute a subset of TCM CD4 T cells, can be readily monitored in peripheral blood to assess HIV persistence.
Project description:Time to AIDS infection is longer with HIV-2, compared to HIV-1, but without antiretroviral therapy both infections will cause AIDS-related mortality. In HIV-2 infection, monitoring of antiretroviral treatment (ART) efficacy is challenging since a large proportion of HIV-2-infected individuals displays low or undetectable plasma RNA levels. Hence, quantification of cellular DNA load may constitute an alternative method for monitoring ART efficacy. Moreover, sensitive HIV-2 DNA quantification protocols are also important for the characterization of the HIV-2 reservoirs, and ultimately for the development of HIV-2 cure strategies. We have developed a sensitive and robust HIV-2 DNA quantification protocol based on whole blood as DNA source, including normalization of leukocyte cell numbers using parallel quantification of the single copy porphobilinogen deaminase gene. The specificity and sensitivity of the assay was 100%. The limit of detection was 1 copy and limit of quantification was 5 copies. When applying this protocol to HIV-2 infected, it was found that HIV-2 viral DNA was detectable in individuals in whom viral RNA was undetectable or under quantification level. Thus, this method provides a sensitive approach to HIV-2 DNA viral quantification from whole blood of HIV-2 infected patients.
Project description:Background:High-level expression of the Fc? receptor, CD32hi, on CD4+ T cells was associated with enhanced human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection of the latent reservoir in a study of adults receiving antiretroviral therapy. We tested the hypothesis that CD32 was the preferential marker of the latent HIV reservoir in virally suppressed, perinatally HIV-infected adolescents. Methods:The frequency of CD32hiCD4+ T cells was determined by flow cytometry (N = 5) and the inducible HIV reservoir in both CD32hi and CD32-CD4+ T cells was quantified (N = 4) with a quantitative viral outgrowth assay. Viral outgrowth was measured by the standard p24 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and an ultrasensitive p24 assay (Simoa; Quanterix) with lower limits of quantitation. Results:We found a 59.55-fold enrichment in the absolute number of infectious cells in the CD32- population compared with CD32hi cells. Exponential HIV replication occurred exclusively in CD32-CD4+ T cells (mean change, 17.46 pg/mL; P = .04). Induced provirus in CD32hiCD4+ T cells replicated to substantially lower levels, which did not increase significantly over time (mean change, 0.026 pg/mL; P = .23) and were detected only with the Simoa assay. Conclusions:Our data suggests that the latent HIV reservoir resides mainly in CD32-CD4+ T cells in virally suppressed, perinatally HIV-infected adolescents, which has implications for reservoir elimination strategies.
Project description:Promising therapeutic approaches for eradicating HIV include transcriptional activation of provirus from latently infected cells using latency-reversing agents (LRAs) and immune-mediated clearance to purge reservoirs. Accurate detection of cells capable of producing viral antigens and virions, and the measurement of clearance of infected cells, is essential to assessing therapeutic efficacy. Here, we apply enhanced methodology extending the sensitivity limits for the rapid detection of subfemtomolar HIV gag p24 capsid protein in CD4+ T cells from ART-suppressed HIV+ individuals, and we show viral protein induction following treatment with LRAs. Importantly, we demonstrate that clinical administration of histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis; vorinostat and panobinostat) induced HIV gag p24, and ex vivo stimulation produced sufficient viral antigen to elicit immune-mediated cell killing using anti-gp120/CD3 bispecific antibody. These findings extend beyond classical nucleic acid endpoints, which are confounded by the predominance of mutated, defective proviruses and, of paramount importance, enable assessment of cells making HIV protein that can now be targeted by immunological approaches.