Purpose of review: Although latent HIV-1 infection in CD4+ T cells contributes to HIV persistence, there is mounting evidence that other viral reservoirs exist. Here, we review recent data suggesting that the infection of hematopoietic progenitor cells creates additional reservoirs for HIV in vivo.
Recent findings: New studies suggest that some types of hematopoietic progenitor cells have the potential to generate reservoirs for HIV. This review focuses on two types that can be infected by HIV in vitro and in vivo: multipotent hematopoietic progenitor cells in the bone marrow and circulating mast cell progenitors. Of these two types, only CD34+ bone marrow cells have been shown to harbor latent provirus in HIV-positive individuals with undetectable viral loads on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Latent infection of these long-lived cell types may create a significant barrier to HIV eradication; the infection of hematopoietic stem cells in particular could lead to an HIV reservoir that does not appreciably decay over the lifespan of the host.
Summary: To eradicate HIV infection, it will be necessary to purge all viral reservoirs in the host. The findings highlighted here suggest that multipotent hematopoietic progenitor cells and possibly tissue mast cells may constitute significant reservoirs for HIV that must be addressed in order to eliminate HIV infection. Future studies are needed to determine which types of CD34+ cells are infected in vivo and whether infected CD34+ cells contribute to residual viremia in people with undetectable viral loads on HAART.