AIDS research and human retroviruses 2017 10 06() doi 10.1089/AID.2017.0107
In clinical trials evaluating HIV-1 prevention products, ex vivo exposure of mucosal tissue to HIV-1 is performed to inform drug levels needed to suppress viral infection. Understanding assay and participant variables that influence HIV-1 replication will help with assay implementation. Demographic and behavioral data were obtained from 61 healthy women aged 21-45. Paired cervical (CT) and vaginal (VT) tissue biopsies were collected and treated with HIV-1BaL or HIV-1JR-CSF, washed, and cultured. On days 3, 7, and/or 11, culture supernatant was collected and viral replication was monitored by p24 ELISA. Tissue was extracted at study end and HIV-1 relative RNA copies were determined by PCR. Cumulative p24 and RNA were log-transformed and analyzed using a linear mixed model, t-test, and an intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC). HIV replication was similar between CT and VT for each virus, but HIV-1BaL had 1.5 log10 and 0.9 log10 higher levels of p24 than HIV-1JR-CSF in CT and VT, respectively (p<.001), which correlated with HIV-1 relative RNA copies. Cumulative p24 and RNA copies in both tissues demonstrated low intra-person correlation for both viruses (ICC≤0.513 HIV-1BaL; ICC≤0.419 HIV-1JR-CSF). Enrollment into previous clinical studies in which genital biopsies were collected modestly decreased the HIV-1BaL cumulative p24 for CT, but not for VT. To improve the ex vivo challenge assay, viruses should be evaluated for replication in mucosal tissue prior to study implementation, baseline mucosal tissue is not needed if a placebo/no treatment group is included within the clinical trial, and previous biopsy sites should be avoided.