Publications & Reports

Toxicity and in vitro activity of HIV-1 latency-reversing agents in primary CNS cells.

Gray LR, On H, Roberts E, Lu HK, Moso MA, Raison JA, Papaioannou C, Cheng WJ, Ellett AM, Jacobson JC, Purcell DF, Wesselingh SL, Gorry PR, Lewin SR, Churchill MJ
Centre for Biomedical Research, Burnet Institute, 85 Commercial Rd, Melbourne, 3004, VIC, Australia. [email protected]


Despite the success of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), HIV persists in long lived latently infected cells in the blood and tissue, and treatment is required lifelong. Recent clinical studies have trialed latency-reversing agents (LRA) as a method to eliminate latently infected cells; however, the effects of LRA on the central nervous system (CNS), a well-known site of virus persistence on cART, are unknown. In this study, we evaluated the toxicity and potency of a panel of commonly used and well-known LRA (panobinostat, romidepsin, vorinostat, chaetocin, disulfiram, hexamethylene bisacetamide [HMBA], and JQ-1) in primary fetal astrocytes (PFA) as well as monocyte-derived macrophages as a cellular model for brain perivascular macrophages. We show that most LRA are non-toxic in these cells at therapeutic concentrations. Additionally, romidepsin, JQ-1, and panobinostat were the most potent at inducing viral transcription, with greater magnitude observed in PFA. In contrast, vorinostat, chaetocin, disulfiram, and HMBA all demonstrated little or no induction of viral transcription. Together, these data suggest that some LRA could potentially activate transcription in latently infected cells in the CNS. We recommend that future trials of LRA also examine the effects of these agents on the CNS via examination of cerebrospinal fluid.

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This study was supported by the following funding bodies: the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia (APP1051093), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (R21 MH100594), and the NIH Delaney AIDS Research Enterprise (DARE) to find a cure collaboratory (U19 AI096109) including supplemental funding from the National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH). LRG was supported by a NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (GNT0606967). PRG is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT120100389). SRL is an NHMRC practitioner fellow. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution to this work of the Victorian Operational Infrastructure Support Program received by the Burnet Institute.


  • Journal: Journal of Neurovirology
  • Published: 04/01/2016
  • Volume: 22
  • Issue: 4
  • Pagination: 455-463

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