Although it is presumed that the integration of HIV-1 into the genome of infected CD4+ T lymphocytes allows viral persistence, there has been little direct evidence that CD4+ T cells with integrated provirus function as a latent reservoir for HIV-1 in infected individuals. Using resting CD4+ T-cell populations of extremely high purity and a novel assay that selectively and unambiguously detects integrated HIV-1, we show that resting CD4+ T cells harbouring integrated provirus are present in some infected individuals. However, these cells do not accumulate within the circulating pool of resting CD4+ T cells in the early stages of HIV-1 infection and do not accumulate even after prolonged periods in long-term survivors of HIV-1 infection. These results suggest that because of viral cytopathic effects and/or host effector mechanisms, productively infected CD4+ T cells do not generally survive for long enough to revert to a resting memory state in vivo.
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Chun, TW., Finzi, D., Margolick, J. et al. In vivo fate of HIV-1-infected T cells: Quantitative analysis of the transition to stable latency. Nat Med 1, 1284–1290 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1038/nm1295-1284
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