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HIV-1 RNA in Extracellular Vesicles is Associated with Neurocognitive Outcomes

Nature Communications

23 May 2024 / Nat Commun 15, 4391


Human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) is responsible for significant mortality and morbidity worldwide. Despite complete control of viral replication with antiretrovirals, cells with integrated HIV-1 provirus can produce viral transcripts. In a cross-sectional study of 84 HIV+ individuals of whom 43 were followed longitudinally, we found that HIV-1 RNAs are present in extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from cerebrospinal fluid and serum of all individuals. We used seven digital droplet polymerase chain reaction assays to evaluate the transcriptional status of the latent reservoir. EV-associated viral RNA was more abundant in the CSF and correlated with neurocognitive dysfunction in both, the cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Sequencing studies suggested compartmentalization of defective viral transcripts in the serum and CSF. These findings suggest previous studies have underestimated the viral burden and there is a significant relationship between latent viral transcription and CNS complications of long-term disease despite the adequate use of antiretrovirals.


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