Can modulation of viral fitness represent a target for anti-HIV-1 strategies?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prolonged use of anti-retroviral compounds in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection selects for drug-resistant and often mutidrug-resistant viral variants. Drug-resistance mutations may also affect viral fitness. Interestingly, recent research has indicated that some of the unfit drug-resistant variants may be less pathogenic, suggesting that decreased viral fitness is beneficial for the host and may be driven by specific treatments during anti-HIV-1 infection. A second potential antiviral strategy starting with profound inteference with viral fitness aims at forcing viruses towards lethal mutagenesis (the so-called "error catastrophe"). This review summarizes the methods for addressing HIV-1 fitness in vitro and ex vivo, the current understanding of clinical implications of reduced HIV-1 fitness, and the potential use of anti-HIV-1 strategies aiming at modulating viral fitness. Finally, it is emphasized how the peculiar features of HIV-1 quasispecies (displaying two different forms of memory, a replicative and a non-replicative form) may sharply influence the design of future diagnostic methodologies for fitness analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalNew Microbiologica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


  • Error catastrophe
  • Fitness
  • HIV-1
  • Quasispecies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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