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Latent Reservoirs -Where, When, and How Long?
Aug 14, 2007

My question relates to latent HIV reservoirs. I would like to know to the best of your knowledge the different types of cells and tissues that might act as reservoirs for the virus, how soon after infection they are created respectively, and how long the infected resting cells are expected to live. My reason for asking this question is that there are many reports of drugs (Valproic Acid, IL-2,IL-7, and Prostratin) that force these resting cells to begin expressing the virus and become susceptible to HAART. Do we happen to know if any/all of these agents that cause viral expression affect ALL of the possible latent reservoirs?

Lastly, why are people concerned with reservoirs when we cannot completely eliminate HIV RNA from the blood and only bring it to a low level we CALL undetectable. We know it is there, albeit <50 copies, and isn't it replicating and continuing to replenish the dreaded reservoirs?

just curious ;o)

Response from Dr. Wohl

We are learning a lot about so called latent reservoirs - cells that the virus enters but which replicate slowly keeping these viruses out of the reach of HIV medications. These cells are found throughout our body as part of our immune system. Latently infected cells are in lymph nodes, the nervous system and (extensively) the gastrointestinal tract.

Were it possible for a treatment to flush out this hidden virus OR kill cells infected, then it is conceivable that HIV could be eliminated from the body as then HIV medications could be used to prevent HIV from copying itself in all the remaining cells - assuming the regimen reached all actively (not latently) infected cells.

It is a theory and many are pursuing it to a) come up wih a cure and b) understand the reasons if it does not work so as to get one step closer to the cure.

DW



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