Peripheral blood HIV-1 DNA dynamics in antiretroviral-treated HIV/HCV co-infected patients receiving directly-acting antivirals

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Background: Aim was to determine the dynamics of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC)- associated total HIV-1 DNA in successfully ART-treated HIV/HCV co-infected patients receiving DAA treatment and to explore possible virological hypotheses underlying the phenomenon. Methods: Longitudinal, single-centre study measuring total HIV-1 DNA before the start of DAA, at the end of treatment (EOT), and 3 months after treatment. Univariable and multivariable analyses were used to assess factors associated with HIV-1 DNA increase 0.5 Log copies/million PBMC. Episomal 2-LTR forms, residual HIV-1 viremia and proviral DNA quasispecies evolution were also investigated. Results: 119 successfully ART-treated HIV/HCV co-infected patients were included. Median baseline HIV-1 DNA was 3.84 Log copies/million PBMC (95%CI 3.49–4.05), and no significant variation with respect to baseline was found at EOT and after 3 months of DAA termination. In 17% of cases an increase 0.5 Log copies/million PBMC was observed at EOT compared to baseline. HIV-1 DNA increase was independently associated with lower baseline HIV-1 DNA, longer HIV suppression, raltegravir-based ART and previous exposure to interferon/ribavirin for HCV treatment. In none of the patients with HIV-1 DNA increase, 2-LTR forms were detected at baseline, while in 2 cases 2-LTR forms were found at EOT, without association with residual HIV-1 RNA viremia. No evidence of viral evolution was observed. Conclusions: In successfully ART-treated HIV/HCV co-infected patients receiving DAA, PBMC-associated total HIV-1 DNA was quite stable over time, but some patients showed a considerable increase at EOT when compared to baseline. A significantly higher risk of HIV DNA increase was found, in presence of lower cellular HIV reservoir at baseline. Activation of replicative-competent virus generating new rounds of viral replication seems unlikely, while mobilization of cell-associated HIV from tissue reservoirs could be hypothesized.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0187095
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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