- WASHINGTON (www.nandotimes.com) -- In as little as 10 days after symptoms
start, the AIDS virus has established a stronghold in immune cells of the
body that could last for years, waiting to erupt into disease, a new study
- Researchers at the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Disease say that a study of 10 patients shows
that a latently infected pool of immune cells quickly established following
infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Drug treatment apparently
does not easily clear out the pool of infected cells, the experts said.
- A report on the study will be published
Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Even if the active HIV disease is held
in check by a three-drug combination of antiviral drugs, the researchers
say, the virus continues to lurk in resting CD4 T-cells in the blood. These
are immune cells that detect and lead the attack on infections, but the
CD4s are also the primary target of the HIV.
- CD4 T-cells are usually resting. They
are activated only when they detect some pathogen invader in the blood.
When this happens, the cells attack the invader and prompt other immune
cells to do the same.
- Anthony S. Fauci, director of NIAID and
co-author of the study, said that studies of the blood from the 10 HIV
patients showed that their resting CD4 T-cells became infected as early
as 10 days after their initial HIV infection symptoms appeared.
- Earlier studies had shown that the resting
CD4 T-cells continued to contain virus even when the antiviral drugs suppressed
the virus elsewhere in the body.
- The new study, said Fauci, shows that
these reservoirs of virus are established very early in the infection.
- Such reservoirs "present a formidable
obstacle to the ultimate control and possible eradication of HIV from an
infected person's body," said Tae-Wook Chun, a NIAID researcher and
co-author of the study.