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Immune control of HIV-1 reservoirs

Autran, Brigitte; Descours, Benjamin; Bacchus, Charline

Current Opinion in HIV & AIDS: May 2013 - Volume 8 - Issue 3 - p 204–210
doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e32835fe6d2
STATE OF HIV CURE: Edited by Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Michael M. Lederman

Purpose of review: To discuss the recent major advances in the understanding of how host immune defenses contribute to HIV reservoir control.

Recent findings: Immune control of HIV-1 reservoirs is a two-step process: viral replication activation from latent reservoirs followed by elimination of virus-expressing cells by the host. Environmental factors, such as pro-inflammatory type-I interferon, chemokines or cytokines, can facilitate HIV-1 replication, confer dormancy in CD4+ cells or confer resistance to cytopathogenic effects of cytotoxic CD8 T cells. Therefore, they constitute a double-edged sword for immune control of HIV reservoirs. Concomitantly, adaptive immunity takes advantage of CD4 T-cell homeostatic mechanisms and can expose HIV-1 antigen-expressing cells to HIV-specific cytotoxic CD8 T cells, and limit virus spreading. These highly interconnected phenomena can lead to quasi-equilibrium between the HIV-1 reservoirs and host immune control that can serve as a model for the ‘shock and kill’ immune-based therapeutic strategies in play in the course of finding an HIV cure.

Summary: Immune control of HIV reservoirs in CD4 T cells involves modulation of both HIV-1 latency and the continuous reseeding of the reservoir offering conceptual models that may advance HIV cure strategies.

Laboratory Immunity and Infection, UMR-S 945 UPMC-INSERM, University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France

Correspondence to Brigitte Autran, Département d’Immunologie, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, 83, boulevard de l’Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France. Tel: +33 1 42 17 74 81; fax: +33 1 42 17 74 90; e-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.