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HIV-1 remission following CCR5Δ32/Δ32 haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation

Nature (2019) | Download Citation


A cure for HIV-1 remains unattainable as only one case has been reported, a decade ago1,2. The individual—who is known as the ‘Berlin patient’—underwent two allogeneic haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) procedures using a donor with a homozygous mutation in the HIV coreceptor CCR5 (CCR5Δ32/Δ32) to treat his acute myeloid leukaemia. Total body irradiation was given with each HSCT. Notably, it is unclear which treatment or patient parameters contributed to this case of long-term HIV remission. Here we show that HIV-1 remission may be possible with a less aggressive and toxic approach. An adult infected with HIV-1 underwent allogeneic HSCT for Hodgkin’s lymphoma using cells from a CCR5Δ32/Δ32 donor. He experienced mild gut graft-versus-host disease. Antiretroviral therapy was interrupted 16 months after transplantation. HIV-1 remission has been maintained over a further 18 months. Plasma HIV-1 RNA has been undetectable at less than one copy per millilitre along with undetectable HIV-1 DNA in peripheral CD4 T lymphocytes. Quantitative viral outgrowth assays from peripheral CD4 T lymphocytes show no reactivatable virus using a total of 24 million resting CD4 T cells. CCR5-tropic, but not CXCR4-tropic, viruses were identified in HIV-1 DNA from CD4 T cells of the patient before the transplant. CD4 T cells isolated from peripheral blood after transplantation did not express CCR5 and were susceptible only to CXCR4-tropic virus ex vivo. HIV-1 Gag-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses were lost after transplantation, whereas cytomegalovirus-specific responses were detectable. Similarly, HIV-1-specific antibodies and avidities fell to levels comparable to those in the Berlin patient following transplantation. Although at 18 months after the interruption of treatment it is premature to conclude that this patient has been cured, these data suggest that a single allogeneic HSCT with homozygous CCR5Δ32 donor cells may be sufficient to achieve HIV-1 remission with reduced intensity conditioning and no irradiation, and the findings further support the development of HIV remission strategies based on preventing CCR5 expression.

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Data availability

SGA sequences are available via GenBank under accession numbers MK493056MK493075. Source Data are available for Figs. 14.

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This study was funded by a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship in Clinical Science to R.K.G., research capability funding (RCF) from UCLH BRC to R.K.G., as well as funding from Oxford and Cambridge Biomedical Research Centres (BRC), amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research), through the amfAR Research Consortium on HIV Eradication (ARCHE) program (AmfAR 109858-64-RSRL), the MRC (MR/R008698/1 to L.M. and MRM008614/2 to D.P.). A.J.I. is supported by an NIHR Clinical Lectureship, and acknowledges support from the NIHR and Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). We thank the CHERUB (http://www.cherub.uk.net) and IciStem Consortia (https://www.icistem.org/) for support and continuous discussion of results; N. Parmahand, M. Bandara, I. Jarvis, A. Fun, M. Lee, L. Hedley, K. Ardeshna, A. Hill, N. Goel, R. Szydlo, D. Slade, S. Griffith and C. Gálvez, Á. Hernández Rodríguez, V. González Soler and B. Rivaya Sánchez, E. van Maarseveen, L. Huyveneers, P. Schipper and D. de Jong; J. Apperley, Z. Allwood and S. Loaiza and all the nurses in the BMT Unit that looked after the patient.

Reviewer information

Nature thanks Steven Deeks, Sarah J. Fidler, Timothy Henrich and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Author information

Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: Ian H. Gabriel, Eduardo Olavarria


  1. Division of Infection and Immunity, UCL, London, UK

    • Ravindra K. Gupta
    • , Sultan Abdul-Jawad
    • , Laura E. McCoy
    • , Christopher Monit
    •  & Luke Muir
  2. Department of Infection, UCLH, London, UK

    • Ravindra K. Gupta
  3. Mortimer Market Centre, Department of HIV, CNWL NHS Trust, London, UK

    • Ravindra K. Gupta
    • , Dimitra Peppa
    • , Laura Waters
    •  & Simon G. Edwards
  4. Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

    • Ravindra K. Gupta
    • , Hoi Ping Mok
    • , Fanny Salasc
    •  & Andrew M. L. Lever
  5. Africa Health Research Institute, Durban, South Africa

    • Ravindra K. Gupta
  6. Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

    • Dimitra Peppa
    • , Matthew Pace
    •  & John Frater
  7. IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute, Badalona, Spain

    • Maria Salgado
    •  & Javier Martinez-Picado
  8. University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), Vic, Spain

    • Javier Martinez-Picado
  9. Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain

    • Javier Martinez-Picado
  10. Translational Virology, Department of Medical Microbiology, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands

    • Monique Nijhuis
    •  & Annemarie M. J. Wensing
  11. Department of Haematology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

    • Helen Lee
  12. Department of Virology, UCLH, London, UK

    • Paul Grant
    •  & Eleni Nastouli
  13. Department of Haematology, UCLH, London, UK

    • Jonathan Lambert
  14. Department of Clinical Haematology, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK

    • Andrew J. Innes
    • , Ian H. Gabriel
    •  & Eduardo Olavarria
  15. Imperial College London, London, UK

    • Andrew J. Innes
    • , Ian H. Gabriel
    •  & Eduardo Olavarria
  16. NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford, UK

    • John Frater
  17. Department of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

    • Andrew M. L. Lever
  18. Department of Haematology, Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust, London, UK

    • Ian H. Gabriel


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R.K.G., S.A.-J., S.G.E., E.O., H.P.M. and I.H.G. conceived and designed the study. S.A.-J., J.M.-P., A.M.J.W., M.S., M.N., F.S., L.M., I.H.G., L.E.Mc., D.P., H.P.M., P.G., E.N., A.M.L.L., L.W., S.G.E., M.P. and C.M. designed and/or performed experiments. R.K.G., J.M.-P., A.M.J.W., S.A.-J., M.S., M.N., F.S., L.M., L.E.Mc., E.O., H.L., J.F., M.P., I.H.G., H.P.M., S.G.E., E.N., P.G., J.L., A.J.I. and C.M. performed analyses and interpreted data. R.K.G., M.N., A.M.J.W., J.M.-P., A.M.L.L., J.L., H.P.M., and A.J.I. wrote the draft of the manuscript. J.M.-P., A.M.J.W., M.S., M.N., F.S., S.A.-J., L.M., L.E.Mc., D.P., H.P.M., P.G., E.N., A.M.L.L., S.G.E., L.W., M.P., I.H.G., H.P.M. and A.J.I. were involved in the critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ravindra K. Gupta.

Extended data figures and tables

  1. Extended Data Fig. 1 Blood cell populations over time.

    3TC, lamivudine; CsA, cyclosporine-A; DTG, dolutegravir; RPV, rilpivirine; WBC, white blood cells.

  2. Extended Data Fig. 2 Susceptibility of CD4 T cells from the index patient to CCR5-tropic and CXCR4-tropic HIV-1.

    a, Experimental flow for measurement of infection by intracellular p24 Gag staining. Control cells were from a healthy HIVCCR5+ donor. b, Flow cytometry analysis of PBMCs following 3 days of stimulation exhibiting the expression pattern of CCR5 receptor within CD3+CD4+ T cells in both healthy donor (control) and index patient. c. Culture supernatants from CD4 T cells infected with CCR5- and CXCR4-tropic viruses were collected on days 3 and 7 to measure infectivity on HeLa TZM-bl reporter cells. Infectivity is measured as a reduction in the gene expression of the Tat-induced firefly luciferase reporter in TZM-bl cells. data are mean ±s.e.m. n = 2: one donor and one index patient. Experiments were repeated three times with similar results.

  3. Extended Data Fig. 3 CD8+T cell responses and CD4 T cell responses to HIV.

    Representative fluorescence-activated cell sorting plots showing the percentage of virus-specific CD8+ T cells (top) and CD4+ T cells (bottom) identified by intracellular staining for IFNγ, following stimulation with HIV Pol, Env and Nef peptide pools after HSCT at days 96 and 819.

  4. Extended Data Table 1 Comparison of blood group and tissue type between stem cell donor and index case
  5. Extended Data Table 2 Detection of bands on western blot pre- and post-transplantation

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