Scientists have discovered a new "depot" of HIV infection in the human body

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Last reviewed: 23.11.2021

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05 May 2017, 09:00

It was previously known that the HIV virus can be hidden inside immune cells. However, recently this virus was detected in macrophages, from where it is difficult to "expel" it.

"The findings from the studies demonstrate: HIV can hide in both T cells and other body structures. If the virus can survive in macrophages, then the treatment should be directed to its destruction in cells of different types, "explains Jenna Hunnicat, a member of the American University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill).

Scientists emphasize that to date, patients with HIV infection live mainly due to treatment with antiretroviral drugs - these are specific drugs that inhibit viral replication in the cells of the body. This type of treatment has a lot of side effects, so it is vital to make periodic long breaks in therapy. These forced interruptions often lead to the resumption of the activity of the virus, and the disease returns to the initial stage within 14-20 days. It is because of this that scientists began to search for new treatments to avoid such a phenomenon.

Jenna Hunnicat together with other researchers determined that the virus "settles" in both T-cells and macrophages-amoeba-like structures that destroy the pathogenic flora and other dangerous particles for the body.

Scientists conducted their experiments on special rodents, in which the bone marrow is composed of human cellular structures.

After scientists discovered a new "depot" of HIV infection, they decided to check whether the virus that hid in macrophages could survive antiretroviral treatment. Indeed, more than a quarter of the test rodents, the virus recovered after antiretroviral treatment.

Presumably, macrophages play the role of the main place of hiding of HIV infection. Confirmation of this information is a full-scale renewal of infection after the harmful effects of antibodies, medication and complete cleansing from T cells. The fact that scientists managed to find the place of shelter of the virus can become a trigger mechanism for creating an adequate medication for HIV-infected patients.

Treatment with antiretroviral drugs, which at the moment has no analogues, can not completely cure the disease. The purpose of such treatment is to support the body's own immunity, reduce the concentration of viral RNA, inhibit the growth of immunodeficiency, and increase the life expectancy of patients. Antiretroviral drugs do not destroy the virus, but only restrain its reproduction. Often, treatment is carried out using several types of antiretroviral agents at the same time, which gives relatively good results. However, it is beyond the power to completely rid the person of the disease of such therapy.

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