Central nervous system (Cns) viral seeding by mature monocytes and potential therapies to reduce cns viral reservoirs in the cart era

Rosiris León-Rivera, Mike Veenstra, Maribel Donoso, Elizabeth Tell, Joan W. Berman, Eliseo A. Eugenin, Susan Morgello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enters the central nervous system (CNS) within a few days after primary infection, establishing viral reservoirs that persist even with combined antiretroviral therapy (cART). We show that monocytes from people living with HIV (PLWH) on suppressive cART harboring integrated HIV, viral mRNA, and/or viral proteins preferentially transmigrate across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to CCL2 and are significantly enriched post-transmigration, and even more highly enriched posttransmigration than T cells with similar properties. Using HIV-infected ART-treated mature monocytes cultured in vitro, we recapitulate these findings and demonstrate that HIV1 CD141 CD161 ART-treated monocytes also preferentially transmigrate. Cenicriviroc and anti-JAM-A and anti-ALCAM antibodies significantly and preferentially reduce/block transmigration of HIV1 CD141 CD161 ART-treated monocytes. These findings highlight the importance of monocytes in CNS HIV reservoirs and suggest targets to eliminate their formation and reseeding. IMPORTANCE We characterized mechanisms of CNS viral reservoir establishment/ replenishment using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of PLWH on cART and propose therapeutic targets to reduce/block selective entry of cells harboring HIV (HIV1) into the CNS. Using DNA/RNAscope, we show that CD141 CD161 monocytes with integrated HIV, transcriptionally active, and/or with active viral replication from PBMC of PLWH prescribed cART and virally suppressed, selectively transmigrate across a human BBB model. This is the first study to our knowledge demonstrating that monocytes from PLWH with HIV disease for approximately 22 years and with long-term documented suppression can still carry virus into the CNS that has potential to be reactivated and infectious. This selective entry into the CNS—and likely other tissues—indicates a mechanism of reservoir formation/reseeding in the cART era. Using blocking studies, we propose CCR2, JAM-A, and ALCAM as targets on HIV1 CD141 CD161 monocytes to reduce and/or prevent CNS reservoir replenishment and to treat HAND and other HIV-associated comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere03633-20
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • ART
  • DNA/RNAscope
  • DdPCR
  • HIV
  • Viral reservoirs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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