Long-term evolution of transmitted CXCR4-using HIV-1 under effective antiretroviral therapy

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Objective:To study the long-term evolution of the transmitted CXCR4-using viruses. CCR5-using viruses (R5 viruses) predominate during primary HIV-1 infections (PHI) while CXCR4-using viruses are isolated in less than 10% of PHI.Design:Six patients infected with an R5X4 virus, detected by a sensitive phenotypic assay during PHI, were matched with six patients infected with a pure R5 virus for sex, Fiebig stage, time of antiretroviral initiation and duration of follow-up.Methods:We used MiSeq ultra-deep sequencing to determine the composition of the virus quasispecies during PHI and at the end of follow-up (median time of follow-up: 12.5 years).Results:X4 viruses were detected by genetic analysis in three of six samples from the R5X4 group, accounting for 1.3–100% of the virus quasispecies, during PHI, and in four of six samples (accounting for 6.7–100%) at the end of follow-up. No X4 virus was detected in the R5 group during PHI and in only one patient (accounting for 1.2%) at the end of follow-up. The complexity of the virus quasispecies at the stage of PHI was higher in the R5X4 group than in the R5 group. Complexity increased from PHI to the end of follow-up in the R5 group but remained stable in the R5X4 group.Conclusion:CXCR4-using viruses persisted in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of several patients on suppressive antiretroviral therapy for a median duration of 12.5 years after PHI. The genetic complexity of HIV-1 evolved differently post-PHI in patients infected with R5X4 viruses from those infected with R5 viruses.

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