J Victor Garcia

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

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Publications (118)634.93 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) using antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) has been shown to reduce HIV transmission in people at high risk of HIV infection. Adherence to PrEP strongly correlates with the level of HIV protection. Long-acting injectable ARVs provide sustained systemic drug exposures over many weeks and can improve adherence due to infrequent parenteral administration. Here, we evaluated a new long-acting formulation of raltegravir for prevention of vaginal HIV transmission. Methods: Long-acting raltegravir was administered subcutaneously to BALB/c, NSG (NOD-scid-gamma) and humanized BLT (bone marrow-liver-thymus) mice and rhesus macaques. Raltegravir concentration in peripheral blood and tissue was analysed. Suppression of HIV replication was assessed in infected BLT mice. Two high-dose HIV vaginal challenges were used to evaluate protection from HIV transmission in BLT mice. Results: Two weeks after a single subcutaneous injection of long-acting raltegravir in BLT mice (7.5 mg) and rhesus macaques (160 mg), the plasma concentration of raltegravir was comparable to 400 mg orally, twice daily in humans. Serum collected from mice 3 weeks post-administration of long-acting raltegravir efficiently blocked HIV infection of TZM-bl indicator cells in vitro. Administration of long-acting raltegravir suppressed viral RNA in plasma and cervico-vaginal fluids of infected BLT mice, demonstrating penetration of active raltegravir into the female reproductive tract. Using transmitted/founder HIV we observed that BLT mice administered a single subcutaneous dose of long-acting raltegravir were protected from two high-dose HIV vaginal challenges 1 week and 4 weeks after drug administration. Conclusions: These preclinical results demonstrated the efficacy of long-acting raltegravir in preventing vaginal HIV transmission.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Macrophages have long been considered to contribute to HIV infection of the CNS; however, a recent study has contradicted this early work and suggests that myeloid cells are not an in vivo source of virus production. Here, we addressed the role of macrophages in HIV infection by first analyzing monocytes isolated from viremic patients and patients undergoing antiretroviral treatment. We were unable to find viral DNA or viral outgrowth in monocytes isolated from peripheral blood. To determine whether tissue macrophages are productively infected, we used 3 different but complementary humanized mouse models. Two of these models (bone marrow/liver/thymus [BLT] mice and T cell-only mice [ToM]) have been previously described, and the third model was generated by reconstituting immunodeficient mice with human CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells that were devoid of human T cells (myeloid-only mice [MoM]) to specifically evaluate HIV replication in this population. Using MoM, we demonstrated that macrophages can sustain HIV replication in the absence of T cells; HIV-infected macrophages are distributed in various tissues including the brain; replication-competent virus can be rescued ex vivo from infected macrophages; and infected macrophages can establish de novo infection. Together, these results demonstrate that macrophages represent a genuine target for HIV infection in vivo that can sustain and transmit infection.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · The Journal of clinical investigation
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Novel therapeutic strategies are needed for the treatment of hematologic malignancies; and bispecific antibody-derived molecules, such as dual-affinity re-targeting (DART) proteins, are being developed to redirect T cells to kill target cells expressing tumor or viral antigens. Here we present our findings of specific and systemic human B-cell depletion by a CD19xCD3 DART protein in humanized BLT mice. Administration of the CD19xCD3 DART protein resulted in a dramatic sustained depletion of human CD19+ B cells from the peripheral blood, as well as a dramatic systemic reduction of human CD19+ B-cell levels in all tissues (bone marrow, spleen, liver, lung) analyzed. When human CD8+ T cells were depleted from the mice, no significant B-cell depletion was observed in response to CD19xCD3 DART protein treatment, confirming that human CD8+ T cells are the primary effector cells in this in vivo model. These studies validate the use of BLT humanized mice for the in vivo evaluation and preclinical development of bispecific molecules that redirect human T cells to selectively deplete target cells.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2016
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Importance: Vif degradation of A3G and A3F enhances viral fitness as virus with even a partially restored capacity for degradation outgrows JRCSFvifH42/43D and JRCSFvifW79S. Unexpectedly, fixation of mutations that replaced H42/43D or W79S in viral RNA lagged the appearance of high viral loads. In one exceptional JRCSFvifH42/43D infection, vif was unchanged but replication proceeded after a long delay. These results suggest that Vif binds and inhibits the non-cytosine deaminase activities of intact A3G and intact A3F allowing JRCSFvifH42/43D and JRCSFvifW79S to replicate with reduced fitness. Subsequently, enhanced Vif function is acquired by enforced mutations. In infected cells, JRCSFΔvif and JRCSFvifH42/43DW79S are exposed to active A3F and A3G and fail to replicate. JRCSFvifH42/43D Vif degrades A3F and, in some cases, overcomes A3G mutagenic activity to replicate. Vif may have evolved to inhibit A3F and A3G by stoichiometric binding and subsequently acquired the ability to target these proteins to proteasomes.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Journal of Virology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The recently completed HIV prevention trials network study 052 is a landmark collaboration demonstrating that HIV transmission in discordant couples can be dramatically reduced by treating the infected individual with antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, the cellular and virological events that occur in the female reproductive tract (FRT) during ART that result in such a drastic decrease in transmission were not studied and remain unknown. Here, we implemented an in vivo model of ART in BM/liver/thymus (BLT) humanized mice in order to better understand the ability of ART to prevent secondary HIV transmission. We demonstrated that the entire FRT of BLT mice is reconstituted with human CD4+ cells that are shed into cervicovaginal secretions (CVS). A high percentage of the CD4+ T cells in the FRT and CVS expressed CCR5 and therefore are potential HIV target cells. Infection with HIV increased the numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in CVS of BLT mice. Furthermore, HIV was present in CVS during infection. Finally, we evaluated the effect of ART on HIV levels in the FRT and CVS and demonstrated that ART can efficiently suppress cell-free HIV-RNA in CVS, despite residual levels of HIV-RNA+ cells in both the FRT and CVS.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Journal of Clinical Investigation
  • J. Victor Garcia
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HIV persistence in patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy is a major impediment to the cure of HIV/AIDS. The molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying HIV persistence in vivo have not been fully elucidated. This lack of basic knowledge has hindered progress in this area. The in vivo analysis of HIV persistence and the implementation of curative strategies would benefit from animal models that accurately recapitulate key aspects of the human condition. This Review summarizes the contribution that humanized mouse models of HIV infection have made to the field of HIV cure research. Even though these models have been shown to be highly informative in many specific areas, their great potential to serve as excellent platforms for discovery in HIV pathogenesis and treatment has yet to be fully developed.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Journal of Clinical Investigation
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The number of humanized mouse models for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and other infectious diseases has expanded rapidly over the past eight years. Highly immunodeficient mouse strains, such as NOD/SCID/gamma chainnull (NSG, NOG), support better human hematopoietic cell engraftment. Another improvement is the derivation of highly immunodeficient mice, transgenic with human leukocyte antigens (HLA) and cytokines that supports development of HLA restricted human T cells and heightened human myeloid cell engraftment. Humanized mice are also used to study the HIV reservoir using new imaging techniques. In spite of these advances, there are still limitations in HIV immune responses and deficits in lymphoid structures in these models in addition to xenogeneic graft-versus-host responses. To understand and disseminate the improvements and limitations of humanized mouse models to the scientific community, the NIH sponsored and convened a meeting on April 15, 2015 to discuss the state of knowledge concerning these questions and best practices for selecting a humanized mouse model for a particular scientific investigation. This report summarizes the findings of the NIH meeting.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · AIDS research and human retroviruses
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A key effector route of the Sugar Code involves lectins that exert crucial regulatory controls by targeting distinct cellular glycans. We demonstrate that a single amino-acid substitution in a banana lectin, replacing histidine 84 with a threonine, significantly reduces its mitogenicity, while preserving its broad-spectrum antiviral potency. X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, and glycocluster assays reveal that loss of mitogenicity is strongly correlated with loss of pi-pi stacking between aromatic amino acids H84 and Y83, which removes a wall separating two carbohydrate binding sites, thus diminishing multivalent interactions. On the other hand, monovalent interactions and antiviral activity are preserved by retaining other wild-type conformational features and possibly through unique contacts involving the T84 side chain. Through such fine-tuning, target selection and downstream effects of a lectin can be modulated so as to knock down one activity, while preserving another, thus providing tools for therapeutics and for understanding the Sugar Code.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Cell
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We used bone marrow/liver/thymus (BLT) humanized mice to establish the effect of semen on vaginal HIV infection and on the efficacy of topically applied maraviroc. Our results demonstrate that vaginal transmission of cell-free HIV occurs efficiently in the presence of semen and that topically applied maraviroc efficiently prevents HIV transmission in the presence of semen. We also show that semen has no significant effect on the transmission of transmitted/founder viruses or cell-associated viruses.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The switching thresholds of magnetophoretic transistors for sorting cells in microfluidic environments are characterized. The transistor operating conditions require short 20–30 mA pulses of electrical current. By demonstrating both attractive and repulsive transistor modes, a single transistor architecture is used to implement the full write cycle for importing and exporting single cells in specified array sites.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Advanced Materials
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Importance: Approximately 240,000 children become infected with HIV annually, the majority via breastfeeding. Despite daily exposure to virus in breast milk, most infants breastfed by HIV-positive women do not acquire HIV. The low risk of breastfeeding-associated HIV transmission is likely due antiviral factors in breast milk. It is well-documented that breast milk of HIV-negative women can inhibit HIV infection. Here, we demonstrate, for the first time, that breast milk of HIV-positive mothers (non-transmitters and transmitters) inhibits HIV transmission. We also demonstrate that breast milk can prevent multiple routes of HIV acquisition and that this activity is unique to human milk. Collectively, our results support current guidelines which recommend that HIV-positive women in resource-limited settings exclusively breastfeed in combination with infant or maternal antiretroviral therapy.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Journal of Virology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vaginal HIV transmission accounts for the majority of new infections worldwide. Currently, multiple efforts to prevent HIV transmission are based on pre-exposure prophylaxis with various antiretroviral drugs. Here, we describe two novel nanoformulations of the reverse transcriptase inhibitor rilpivirine for pericoital and coitus-independent HIV prevention. Topically applied rilpivirine, encapsulated in PLGA nanoparticles, was delivered in a thermosensitive gel, which becomes solid at body temperature. PLGA nanoparticles with encapsulated rilpivirine coated the reproductive tract and offered significant protection to BLT humanized mice from a vaginal high-dose HIV-1 challenge. A different nanosuspension of crystalline rilpivirine (RPV LA), administered intramuscularly, protected BLT mice from a single vaginal high-dose HIV-1 challenge one week after drug administration. Using transmitted/founder viruses, which were previously shown to establish de novo infection in humans, we demonstrated that RPV LA offers significant protection from two consecutive high-dose HIV-1 challenges one and four weeks after drug administration. In this experiment, we also showed that, in certain cases, even in the presence of drug, HIV infection could occur without overt or detectable systemic replication until levels of drug were reduced. We also showed that infection in the presence of drug can result in acquisition of multiple viruses after subsequent exposures. These observations have important implications for the implementation of long-acting antiretroviral formulations for HIV prevention. They provide first evidence that occult infections can occur, despite the presence of sustained levels of antiretroviral drugs. Together, our results demonstrate that topically- or systemically administered rilpivirine offers significant coitus-dependent or coitus-independent protection from HIV infection.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · PLoS Pathogens
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    Richard L Watkins · John L Foster · J Victor Garcia
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nef is a multifunctional HIV-1 protein critical for progression to AIDS. Humans infected with nef(-) HIV-1 have greatly delayed or no disease consequences. We have contrasted nef(-) and nef(+) infection of BLT humanized mice to better characterize Nef's pathogenic effects. Mice were inoculated with CCR5-tropic HIV-1JRCSF (JRCSF) or JRCSF with an irreversibly inactivated nef (JRCSFNefdd). In peripheral blood (PB), JRCSF exhibited high levels of viral RNA (peak viral loads of 4.71 × 10(6) ± 1.23 × 10(6) copies/ml) and a progressive, 75% loss of CD4(+) T cells over 17 weeks. Similar losses were observed in CD4(+) T cells from bone marrow, spleen, lymph node, lung and liver but thymocytes were not significantly decreased. JRCSFNefdd also had high peak viral loads (2.31 × 10(6) ± 1.67 × 10(6)) but induced no loss of PB CD4(+) T cells. In organs, JRCSFNefdd produced small, but significant, reductions in CD4(+) T cell levels and did not affect the level of thymocytes. Uninfected mice have low levels of HLA-DR(+)CD38(+)CD8(+) T cells in blood (1-2%). Six weeks post inoculation, JRCSF infection resulted in significantly elevated levels of activated CD8(+) T cells (6.37 ± 1.07%). T cell activation coincided with PB CD4(+) T cell loss which suggests a common Nef-dependent mechanism. At 12 weeks, in JRCSF infected animals PB T cell activation sharply increased to 19.7 ± 2.9% then subsided to 5.4 ± 1.4% at 14 weeks. HLA-DR(+)CD38(+)CD8(+) T cell levels in JRCSFNefdd infected mice did not rise above 1-2% despite sustained high levels of viremia. Interestingly, we also noted that in mice engrafted with human tissue expressing a putative protective HLA-B allele (B42:01), JRCSFNefdd exhibited a substantial (200-fold) reduced viral load compared to JRCSF. Nef expression was necessary for both systemic T cell activation and substantial CD4(+) T cell loss from blood and tissues. JRCSFNefdd infection did not activate CD8(+) T cells or reduce the level of CD4(+) T cells in blood but did result in a small Nef-independent decrease in CD4(+) T cells in organs. These observations strongly support the conclusion that viral pathogenicity is mostly driven by Nef. We also observed for the first time substantial host-specific suppression of HIV-1 replication in a small animal infection model.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Retrovirology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since the onset of the HIV epidemic, there has been a shift from a deadly diagnosis to the management of a chronic disease. This shift is the result of the development of highly effective drugs that are able to suppress viral replication for years. The availability of these regimens has also shifted the neurocognitive pathology associated with infection from potentially devastating to a much milder phenotype. As the disease outcome has changed significantly with the availability of antiretroviral therapy, there is an opportunity to re-evaluate the currently available models to address the neurocognitive pathology seen in suppressed patients. In the following, we seek to summarize the current literature on humanized mouse models and their utility in understanding how HIV infection leads to changes in the central nervous system (CNS). Also, we identify some of the unanswered questions regarding HIV infection of the CNS as well as the opportunities and limitations of currently existing models to address those questions. Finally, our conclusions indicate that the earlier humanized models used to study HIV infection in the CNS provided an excellent foundation for the type of work currently being performed using novel humanized mouse models. We also indicate the potential of some humanized mouse models that have not been used as of this time for the analysis of HIV infection in the brain.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Journal of NeuroVirology
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    Preview · Article · Oct 2014 · AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Primary antibody deficiencies present clinically as reduced or absent plasma antibodies without another identified disorder that could explain the low immunoglobulin levels. Bone marrow-liver-thymus (BLT) humanized mice also exhibit primary antibody deficiency or hypogammaglobulinemia. Comprehensive characterization of B cell development and differentiation in BLT mice revealed other key parallels with primary immunodeficiency patients. We found that B cell ontogeny was normal in the bone marrow of BLT mice but observed an absence of switched memory B cells in the periphery. PC-KLH immunizations led to the presence of switched memory B cells in immunized BLT mice although plasma cells producing PC- or KLH- specific IgG were not detected in tissues. Overall, we have identified the following parallels between the humoral immune systems of primary antibody deficiency patients and those in BLT mice that make this in vivo model a robust and translational experimental platform for gaining a greater understanding of this heterogeneous array of humoral immunodeficiency disorders in humans: (i) hypogammaglobulinemia; (ii) normal B cell ontogeny in bone marrow; and (iii) poor antigen-specific IgG response to immunization. Furthermore, the development of strategies to overcome these humoral immune aberrations in BLT mice may in turn provide insights into the pathogenesis of some primary antibody deficiency patients which could lead to novel clinical interventions for improved humoral immune function.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    Preview · Article · Oct 2014 · AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
  • Angela Wahl · J. Victor Garcia
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The gastrointestinal (GI) track represents an important battlefield where pathogens first try to gain entry into a host. It is also a universe where highly diverse and ever changing inhabitants co-exist in an exceptional equilibrium without parallel in any other organ system of the body. The gut as an organ has its own well-developed and fully functional immune organization that is similar and yet different in many important ways to the rest of the immune system. Both a compromised and an overactive immune system in the gut can have dire and severe consequences to human health. It has therefore been of great interest to develop animal models that recapitulate the key aspects of the human condition to better understand the interplay of the host immune system with its friends and its foes. However, reconstitution of the GI tract in humanized mice has been difficult and highly variable in different systems. A better molecular understanding of the development of the gut immune system in mice has provided critical cues that have been recently used to develop novel humanized mouse models that fully recapitulate the genesis and key functions of the gut immune system of humans. Of particular interest is the presence of human gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) aggregates in the gut of NOD/SCID BLT humanized mice that demonstrate the faithful development of bona fide human plasma cells capable of migrating to the lamina propria and producing human IgA1 and IgA2.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Journal of Immunological Methods
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Author Summary Antiretroviral therapy (ART) improves the quality of life for HIV infected individuals. However, ART is currently a lifelong commitment because HIV persists during treatment despite being suppressed below detection. If therapy is stopped, the HIV reappears. A concerted effort is ongoing to develop new eradication therapies to prevent virus rebound, but there are challenges to be overcome. Our work is a major step forward in this process. We measured persistent HIV throughout the body during ART using bone marrow/liver/thymus (BLT) humanized mice, a model validated to study HIV persistence. HIV infected BLT mice were treated with tenofovir, emtricitabine and raltegravir. Despite documented tissue penetration by these drugs, we found that HIV expression persists in cells isolated from all the tissues analyzed (bone marrow, thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, liver, lung, intestines and peripheral blood cells). We therefore complemented ART with an immunotoxin that specifically kills HIV expressing cells while leaving other cells untouched. Our results demonstrate a dramatic reduction in persistent HIV throughout the body resulting from the killing of virus producing cells. Thus, our study provides new insights into the locations of HIV persistence during ART and a demonstration that persistent HIV can be successfully targeted inside the body.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · PLoS Pathogens
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Unlabelled: Elite controllers or suppressors (ES) are HIV-1-infected patients who maintain undetectable viral loads without antiretroviral therapy. The mechanism of control remains unclear, but the HLA-B*57 allele is overrepresented in cohorts of these patients. However, many HLA-B*57 patients develop progressive disease, and some studies have suggested that infection with defective viruses may be the cause of the lack of high levels of virus replication and disease progression in ES. We therefore performed a comprehensive comparative in vivo and in vitro characterization of viruses isolated from well-defined ES. For this purpose, we first performed full-genome sequence analysis and in vitro fitness assays on replication-competent isolates from HLA-B*57 ES and HLA-B*57 chronic progressors (CPs). Under our experimental conditions, we found that isolates from ES and CPs can replicate in vitro. However, since inherently these assays involve the use of unnaturally in vitro-activated cells, we also investigated the replication competence and pathogenic potential of these HIV isolates in vivo using humanized BLT mice. The results from these analyses demonstrate that virus isolates from ES are fully replication competent in vivo and can induce peripheral and systemic CD4 T cell depletion. These results provide the first direct in vivo evidence that viral fitness does not likely determine clinical outcome in HLA-B*57 patients and that elite suppressors can control replication-competent, fully pathogenic viruses. A better understanding of the immunological bases of viral suppression in ES will serve to inform novel approaches to preventive and therapeutic HIV vaccine design. Importance: Elite suppressors are HIV-1-infected patients who have undetectable levels of viremia despite not being on antiviral drugs. One of the most fundamental questions about this phenomenon involves the mechanism of control. To address this question, we isolated virus from elite suppressors and from HIV-1-infected patients who have the usual progressive disease course. We compared how well the isolates from the two groups of patients replicated in culture and in humanized mice. Our results suggest that elite suppressors are capable of controlling HIV-1 due to the possession of unique host factors rather than infection with defective virus.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Journal of Virology

Publication Stats

4k Citations
634.93 Total Impact Points


  • 2011-2015
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Division of Infectious Diseases
      North Carolina, United States
  • 2001-2010
    • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
      • • Department of Internal Medicine
      • • Division of Infectious Diseases
      Dallas, TX, United States
  • 2000-2007
    • University of Texas at Dallas
      Richardson, Texas, United States
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • Department of Pediatrics
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 2006
    • Harvard Medical School
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1998
    • The University of Memphis
      Memphis, Tennessee, United States
  • 1997-1998
    • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
      Memphis, Tennessee, United States
  • 1994
    • The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
      Memphis, Tennessee, United States