[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several clinical studies have shown that, relative to disease progression, HIV-1 isolates that are less fit are also less pathogenic. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between viral fitness and control of viral load (VL) in acute and early HIV-1 infection. Samples were obtained from subjects participating in two clinical studies. In the PULSE study, antiretroviral therapy (ART) was initiated before, or no later than six months following seroconversion. Subjects then underwent multiple structured treatment interruptions (STIs). The PHAEDRA study enrolled and monitored a cohort of individuals with documented evidence of primary infection. The subset chosen were individuals identified no later than 12 months following seroconversion to HIV-1, who were not receiving ART. The relative fitness of primary isolates obtained from study participants was investigated ex vivo. Viral DNA production was quantified using a novel real time PCR assay. Following intermittent ART, the fitness of isolates obtained from 5 of 6 PULSE subjects decreased over time. In contrast, in the absence of ART the fitness of paired isolates obtained from 7 of 9 PHAEDRA subjects increased over time. However, viral fitness did not correlate with plasma VL. Most unexpected was the high relative fitness of isolates obtained at Baseline from PULSE subjects, before initiating ART. It is widely thought that the fitness of strains present during the acute phase is low relative to strains present during chronic HIV-1 infection, due to the bottleneck imposed upon transmission. The results of this study provide evidence that the relative fitness of strains present during acute HIV-1 infection may be higher than previously thought. Furthermore, that viral fitness may represent an important clinical parameter to be considered when deciding whether to initiate ART during early HIV-1 infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a prospective open-label study, 41 male subjects received nelfinavir, zidovudine, and lamivudine stratified as either: early stage (ES; negative/indeterminate Western blot; n = 19) or late stage (LS; positive Western blot; n = 22) primary HIV-1 infection. Despite higher median baseline HIV-1 RNA levels and lower CD4(+) cell numbers in the ES subjects, a significantly greater decline in viral load (-3.46 vs. -2.83 log(10) copies/ml; p = 0.023) and increase in CD4(+) cell number (+85 vs. +41 cells/month increase, p = 0.01) were observed over the first 3 months of therapy such that both groups had comparable results at 1 year. The proportion with HIV-1 RNA < 50 copies/mL at 1 year was similar (9 of 19 ES subjects and 11 of 22 LS subjects by intention-to-treat analysis). Memory CD4(+) cell numbers, and activated CD4(+) percentages, were also significantly improved in ES subjects. Despite poorer prognostic markers at baseline ES subjects achieved responses similar to those of LS subjects after 1 year of treatment.
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses 03/2003; 19(3):189-99. · 2.71 Impact Factor