Subtype B HIV-1 reservoirs have been intensively investigated, but reservoirs in other subtypes and how they respond to antiretroviral therapy (ART) is substantially less established. To characterize subtype C HIV-1 reservoirs, we implemented postmortem frozen, as well as formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue sampling of central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral tissues. HIV-1 LTR, gag, envelope (env) DNA and RNA was quantified using genomic DNA and RNA extracted from frozen tissues. RNAscope was used to localize subtype C HIV-1 DNA and RNA in FFPE tissue. Despite uniform viral load suppression in our cohort, PCR results showed that subtype C HIV-1 proviral copies vary both in magnitude and tissue distribution, with detection primarily in secondary lymphoid tissues. Interestingly, the appendix harbored proviruses in all subjects. Unlike subtype B, subtype C provirus was rarely detectable in the CNS, and there was no detectable HIV-1 RNA. HIV-1 RNA was detected in peripheral lymphoid tissues of 6 out of 8 ART-suppressed cases. In addition to active HIV-1 expression in lymphoid tissues, RNAscope revealed HIV RNA detection in CD4-expressing cells in the appendix, suggesting that this tissue was a previously unreported potential treatment-resistant reservoir for subtype C HIV-1.
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Liu, Zhou; Julius, Peter; Kang, Guobin; West, John T.; and Wood, Charles, "Subtype C Hiv-1 Reservoirs Throughout The Body In Art-suppressed Individuals" (2022). School of Medicine Faculty Publications. 546.