Persistence of SIV in the brain of SIV-infected Chinese rhesus macaques with or without antiretroviral therapy

Stefanie Perez, Ann Marie Johnson, Shi hua Xiang, Jian Li, Brian T. Foley, Lara Doyle-Meyers, Antonito Panganiban, Amitinder Kaur, Ronald S. Veazey, Yuntao Wu, Binhua Ling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Persistence of HIV-1 reservoirs in the central nervous system (CNS) is an obstacle to cure strategies. However, little is known about residual viral distribution, viral replication levels, and genetic diversity in different brain regions of HIV-infected individuals on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Because myeloid cells particularly microglia are likely major reservoirs in the brain, and more microglia exist in white matter than gray matter in a human brain, we hypothesized the major viral reservoirs in the brain are the white matter reflected by higher levels of viral DNA. To address the issue, we used the Chinese rhesus macaque (ChRM) model of SIV infection, and treated 11 SIVmac251-infected animals including long-term nonprogressors with cART for up to 24 weeks. SIV reservoirs were assessed by SIV DNA levels in 16 specific regions of the brain and 4 regions of spinal cord. We found relatively high frequencies of SIV in basal ganglia and brain stem compared to other regions. cART-receiving animals had significantly lower SIV DNA levels in the gray matter than white matter. Moreover, a shortened envelope gp120 with 21 nucleotide deletions and guanine-to-adenine hypermutations were observed. These results demonstrate that SIV enters the CNS in SIV-infected ChRM with a major reservoir in the white matter after cART; the SIV/ChRM/cART is an appropriate model for studying HIV CNS reservoirs and testing new eradication strategies. Further, examining multiple regions of the CNS may be needed when assessing whether an agent is successful in reducing the size of SIV reservoirs in the CNS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-74
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurovirology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Antiretroviral therapy
  • Central nervous system
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Reservoir
  • Rhesus macaque
  • Simian immunodeficiency virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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