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UCLA researchers have found the human gut to be a major reservoir harboring the HIV virus holding almost twice as much as a persons blood. In addition, the virus stored in the gut does not decay or reduce over time, as is also the case with blood-related reservoirs. It is well-known that peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and lymph nodes are principal reservoirs harboring the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The role of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) in this setting, however, had not been properly evaluated until now. Researchers from the Center for Prevention Research and the UCLA AIDS Institute at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, in collaboration with the AIDS Research Alliance in West Hollywood, Calif., collaborated on this research.
The findings further confirm that HIV remains persistent and elusive, and that eradicating the virus using current anti-retroviral therapy alone is not enough. Despite using fully suppressive therapy, patients in the study still had evidence of persistent, steady levels of HIV in gut tissue as well as in the blood.
The authors of the study are W. John Boscardin, Julie Elliott, Philip Taing, Marie M.P. Fuerst, Ian McGowan and Peter A. Anton of UCLA; Michael A. Poles of New York University; and Stephen Brown of the AIDS Research Alliance. The research was published in the September issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, and supported by grants from the National Institutes of Healths Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR): Cores of Mucosal Immunology, Virology and Biostatistics; AIDS Research Alliance; Macys Foundation; Pendleton Foundation, and Oppenheimer Brothers Foundation.