Virology 2017 05 17508() 127-133 pii 10.1016/j.virol.2017.05.008
Quantification of cell-associated replication-competent HIV, in blood samples from patients with undetectable plasma viremia, requires specialized culture conditions that include exogenous pan T cell stimulation. Different research groups have used several stimuli for this purpose; however, the relative efficacies of these T cell stimuli to induce productive HIV replication from latently infected cells ex vivo have not been systematically evaluated. To this end, we compared four commonly used T cell stimuli: 1) irradiated allogeneic cells plus phytohaemagglutinin (PHA); 2) PHA alone; 3) phorbol myristate acetate plus Ionomycin; and 4) immobilized αCD3 plus αCD28 antibodies. End-point dilutions of patient CD4 T cells were performed, using virion RNA production to quantify HIV induction. Our results demonstrated that these activation approaches were not equivalent and that antibody cross-linking of CD3 and CD28 membrane receptors was the most effective means to activate HIV replication from a resting cell state, closely followed by stimulation with irradiated allogeneic cells plus PHA.