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Maintenance of CD4+ T-cell memory and HIV persistence: keeping memory, keeping HIV

Chomont, Nicolasa; DaFonseca, Sandrinaa; Vandergeeten, Clairea; Ancuta, Petronelab,c; Sékaly, Rafick-Pierrea,b,c

Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS: January 2011 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - p 30–36
doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e3283413775
HIV reservoirs: from pathogenesis to drug development: Edited by Robert F. Siliciano and Janet D. Siliciano

Purpose of review The present review summarizes the current challenges for the design of new therapeutic strategies toward HIV eradication in individuals receiving suppressive highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). We will focus on the experimental evidence suggesting that immunological mechanisms involved in the generation and maintenance of memory CD4+ T cells are also responsible for the establishment and persistence of a stable reservoir for HIV.

Recent findings Recent studies performed on clinical samples obtained from virally suppressed HIV-infected individuals indicate that T-cell survival and homeostatic proliferation, two major mechanisms involved in the maintenance of immunological memory, contribute to the persistence of latently infected memory CD4+ T cells. Thus, the long lifespan characteristic of the HIV reservoir is likely a consequence of the capacity of the immune system to generate and maintain memory CD4+ T cells for a long period.

Summary These findings suggest that strategies aimed at reducing the pool of latently infected cells should interfere with the survival pathways responsible for the long-term maintenance of memory CD4+ T cells. Because memory CD4+ T cells are critical for appropriate immune defense, targeted approaches are needed to interfere only with the long-term survival of discrete fractions of memory T cells carrying proviral DNA.

aVGTI Florida, Port St Lucie, Florida, USA

bCentre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), Saint-Luc Hospital, Canada

cDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

Correspondence to Rafick-Pierre Sékaly, VGTI-FL, 11350 SW Village Parkway, Port Sainte-Lucie, FL 34987, USA Tel: +1 7723454780; fax: +1 7723453675; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.