When an HIV-infected patient is taking HAART, inductive cytokines and other factors which can boost HIV production are still present in their lymph nodes and related organs. However, the powerful effects of HAART nonetheless can reduce viral replication dramatically, sometimes to the point where HIV can be found only in a latent form in resting CD4+ T cells. The new data suggest that when HAART is withdrawn, the effects of HIV-inducing cytokines and other factors once again promote the active production of virus.
"The findings underscore the risks involved in discontinuing antiretroviral therapy, even if a patient feels better and has a viral load that is 'undetectable' using standard assays," Dr. Fauci says. "Our data also stress the importance of developing comprehensive treatment strategies which not only block HIV replication but also modulate the host factors that drive such replication.
In studies dating back to the mid-1980s, Dr. Fauci and his team have shown that certain
cytokines normally secreted by immune cells, particularly in the lymph nodes, can boost the
replication of HIV. Blocking these so c
Contact: Greg Folkers
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases