A common anti-cytomegalovirus drug, ganciclovir, inhibits HIV-1 replication in human tissues ex vivo

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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common HIV-1 copathogen. Since CMV infection is an important contributor to immune activation, the driving force of HIV disease, an anti-CMV strategy might be beneficial to HIV-infected patients. Shin et al. (J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2014; 65:251–258) reported that anti-CMV therapy with valganciclovir in coinfected individuals results in a decrease of HIV viral load that is not accompanied by a decrease of immune activation. This suggests an alternative mechanism for HIV inhibition other than suppression of CMV-mediated inflammation.


We evaluated the anti-HIV activity of ganciclovir (GCV), the active form of valganciclovir, on HIV replication in human tissues ex vivo.


We show that GCV has a direct suppressive activity on HIV replication in human tissues ex vivo, including laboratory strains, drug-resistant and primate HIV-1 isolates. We deciphered the mechanism of this inhibition and showed that GCV-TP is incorporated in the nascent DNA chain and acts as a delayed chain terminator.


Our results suggest that anti-CMV strategy using valganciclovir in HIV-1-infected individuals may reduce HIV-1 viral load not only indirectly by decreasing CMV-mediated immune activation but also directly by inhibiting HIV-1 reverse transcriptase.

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