Indexed on: 13 Jul '14Published on: 13 Jul '14Published in: The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy
Tropism evolution of HIV-1 quasispecies was analysed by ultra-deep pyrosequencing (UDPS) in patients on first-line combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) always suppressed or experiencing virological failure episodes.Among ICONA patients, two groups of 20 patients on cART for ≥5 years, matched for baseline viraemia and therapy duration, were analysed [Group I, patients always suppressed; and Group II, patients experiencing episode(s) of virological failure]. Viral tropism was assessed by V3 UDPS on plasma RNA before therapy (T0) and on peripheral blood mononuclear cell proviral DNA before-after therapy (T0-T1), using geno2pheno false positive rate (FPR) (threshold for X4: 5.75). For each sample, quasispecies tropism was assigned according to X4 variant frequency: R5, <0.3% X4; minority X4, 0.3%-19.9% X4; and X4, ≥20% X4. An R5-X4 switch was defined as a change from R5/minority X4 in plasma/proviral genomes at T0 to X4 in provirus at T1.At baseline, mean FPR and %X4 of viral RNA were positively correlated with those of proviral DNA. After therapy, proviral DNA load significantly decreased in Group I; mean FPR of proviral quasispecies significantly decreased and %X4 increased in Group II. An R5-X4 switch was observed in five patients (two in Group I and three in Group II), all harbouring minority X4 variants at T0.UDPS analysis reveals that the tropism switch is not an 'on-off' phenomenon, but may result from a profound re-shaping of viral quasispecies, even under suppressive cART. However, episodes of virological failure seem to prevent reduction of proviral DNA and to accelerate viral evolution, as suggested by decreased FPR and increased %X4 at T1 in Group II patients.