Dr. Malika Aid of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research will be presenting: "Toll-Like Receptor 7 Agonist GS-9620 Induces HIV Expression and HIV-Specific Immunity in Cells from HIV-Infected Individuals on Suppressive Antiretroviral Therapy"
ABSTRACT: Antiretroviral therapy can suppress HIV replication to undetectable levels but does not eliminate latent HIV, thus necessitating lifelong therapy. Recent efforts to target this persistent reservoir have focused on inducing the expression of latent HIV so that infected cells may be recognized and eliminated by the immune system. Toll-like receptor (TLR) activation stimulates antiviral immunity and has been shown to induce HIV from latently infected cells. Activation of TLR7 leads to the production of several stimulatory cytokines, including type I interferons (IFNs). In this study, we show that the selective TLR7 agonist GS-9620 induced HIV in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from HIV-infected individuals on suppressive antiretroviral therapy. GS-9620 increased extracellular HIV RNA 1.5- to 2-fold through a mechanism that required type I IFN signaling. GS-9620 also activated HIV-specific T cells and enhanced antibody-mediated clearance of HIV-infected cells. Activation by GS-9620 in combination with HIV peptide stimulation increased CD8 T cell degranulation, production of intracellular cytokines, and cytolytic activity. T cell activation was again dependent on type I IFNs produced by plasmacytoid dendritic cells. GS- 9620 induced phagocytic cell maturation and improved effector-mediated killing of HIV-infected CD4 T cells by the HIV envelope-specific broadly neutralizing antibody PGT121. Collectively, these data show that GS-9620 can activate HIV production and improve the effector functions that target latently infected cells. GS-9620 may effectively complement orthogonal therapies designed to stimulate antiviral immunity, such as therapeutic vaccines or broadly neutralizing antibodies. Clinical studies are under way to determine if GS-9620 can target HIV reservoirs. (As published in the Journal of Virology, April 2017, Volume 91, Issue 8)