Spontaneous control of HIV-1 viremia in a subject with protective HLA-B plus HLA-C alleles and HLA-C associated single nucleotide polymorphisms

Marco Moroni, Silvia Ghezzi, Paolo Baroli, Silvia Heltai, Davide De Battista, Simone Pensieroso, Mariangela Cavarelli, Stefania Dispinseri, Irene Vanni, Claudia Pastori, Pietro Zerbi, Antonella Tosoni, Elisa Vicenzi, Manuela Nebuloni, Kim Wong, Hong Zhao, Sarah McHugh, Guido Poli, Lucia Lopalco, Gabriella ScarlattiRoberto Biassoni, James I. Mullins, Mauro S. Malnati, Massimo Alfano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Understanding the mechanisms by which some individuals are able to naturally control HIV-1 infection is an important goal of AIDS research. We here describe the case of an HIV-1+ woman, CASE1, who has spontaneously controlled her viremia for the last 14 of her 20 years of infection. Methods: CASE1 has been clinically monitored since 1993. Detailed immunological, virological and histological analyses were performed on samples obtained between 2009 and 2011. Results: As for other Elite Controllers, CASE1 is characterized by low to undetectable levels of plasma HIV-1 RNA, peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) associated HIV-1 DNA and reduced in vitro susceptibility of target cells to HIV-1 infection. Furthermore, a slow rate of virus evolution was demonstrated in spite the lack of assumption of any antiretroviral agent. CASE1 failed to transmit HIV-1 to either her sexual male partner or to her child born by vaginal delivery. Normal values and ratios of T and B cells were observed, along with normal histology of the intestinal mucosa. Attempts to isolate HIV-1 from her PBMC and gut-derived cells were unsuccessful, despite expression of normal cell surface levels of CD4, CCRC5 and CXCR4. CASE1 did not produce detectable anti-HIV neutralizing antibodies in her serum or genital mucosal fluid although she displayed potent T cell responses against HIV-1 Gag and Nef. CASE1 also possessed multiple genetic polymorphisms, including HLA alleles (B*14, B*57, C*06 and C*08.02) and HLA-C single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, rs9264942 C/C and rs67384697 del/del), that have been previously individually associated with spontaneous control of plasma viremia, maintenance of high CD4+ T cell counts and delayed disease progression. Conclusions: CASE1 has controlled her HIV-1 viremia below the limit of detection in the absence of antiretroviral therapy for more than 14 years and has not shown any sign of immunologic deterioration or disease progression. Co-expression of multiple protective HLA alleles, HLA-C SNPs and strong T cell responses against HIV-1 proteins are the most likely explanation of this very benign case of spontaneous control of HIV-1 disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number335
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 5 2014


  • Elite controller (ELC)
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)
  • Long term nonprogressor (LTNP)
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)
  • Viremia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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