This study examines sequential lymph nodes from 13 drug-naive patients before and after 24 weeks of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). A multipronged approach was used to study changes in HIV-1 RNA in each paired lymph node in relation to tissue architecture and frequency of naive T cells. After 24 weeks, all patients showed significant suppression of plasma viral load and 12 of 13 showed concordant viral suppression in the lymph node (p = 0.001). Using in situ hybridization and quantitative image analysis, we showed that HIV-1 RNA was reduced to below detectable levels (two copies per cell) in follicular dendritic cell (FDC) and mononuclear cell pools. Independent immunohistochemical analysis of lymph node sections revealed that 5 of 13 patients displayed increased FDC networks and 6 of 13 showed no change and all patients showed increases in tissue-resident CD4+ cells. All lymph node biopsies at 24 weeks showed increased proportions of CD4+ and CD8+ cells coexpressing the naive markers CD45RA and CD62L when compared with baseline values. Significant correlations existed between viral load suppression and loss of activated CD8+ T cells after 24 weeks in both lymph node and blood, which was mirrored by significantly lowered frequencies of activated peripheral Gag peptide/MHC tetramer+ CD8+ cells. Overall, these data show that a potent and successful treatment strategy that significantly suppresses and removes FDC-resident HIV-1 results in improvements in lymphoid architecture and by so doing provides the structures available for increased numbers of naive cells to interact with cognate antigen. In addition, our article shows that suppression of HIV-1 replication results in diminished frequencies of peripherally activated antigen-specific CD8+ cells.
View details for Web of Science ID 000089593100004
View details for PubMedID 11018855