Purpose of review: Animal models will be critical for preclinical evaluations of novel HIV eradication and/or functional cure strategies in the setting of suppressive combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Here, the strengths, limitations, and challenges of recent efforts to develop nonhuman primate (NHP) models of cART-mediated suppression for use in studies of persistent virus and curative approaches are discussed.
Recent findings: Several combinations of NHP species and viruses that recapitulate key aspects of human HIV infection have been adapted for cART-mediated suppression studies. Different cART regimens incorporating drugs targeting multiple different steps of the viral replication cycle have provided varying levels of virologic suppression, dependent in part upon the host species, virus, drug regimen and timing, and virologic monitoring assay sensitivity. New, increasingly sensitive virologic monitoring approaches for measurements of plasma viral RNA, cell-associated and tissue-associated viral RNA and DNA, and the replication-competent residual viral pool in the setting of cART in NHP models are being developed to allow for the assessment of persistent virus on cART and to evaluate the impact of viral induction/eradication strategies in vivo.
Summary: Given the vagaries of each specific virus and host species, and cART regimen, each model will require further development and analysis to determine their appropriate application for addressing specific experimental questions.