HIV has become a chronic disease despite the effective use of antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, the mechanisms of tissue colonization, viral evolution, generation of viral reservoirs, and compartmentalization are still a matter of debate due to the challenges involved in examining early events of infection at the cellular and molecular level. Thus, there is still an urgent need to explore these areas to develop effective HIV cure strategies. In this study, we describe the early events of tissue colonization and compartmentalization as well as the role of tunneling nanotube-like structures during viral spread in the presence and absence of effective antiretroviral treatment. To examine these mechanisms, NOD/SCID IL-2 RG2/2 humanized mice were either directly infected with HIVADA or with low numbers of HIVADA-infected leukocytes to limit tissue colonization in the presence and absence of TAK779, an effective CCR5 blocker of HIV entry. We identify that viral seeding in tissues occurs early in a tissue-and cell type- specific manner (24-72 h). Reduction in systemic HIV replication by TAK779 treatment did not affect tissue seeding or spreading, despite reduced systemic viral replication. Tissue-Associated HIV-infected cells had different properties than cells in the circulation because the virus continues to spread in tissues in a tunneling nanotube-like structure-dependent manner, despite ART. Thus, understanding these mechanisms can provide new approaches to enhance the efficacy of existing ART and HIV infection cure strategies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy