Compounds that block the reactivation of latent HIV-1 in a human cell line containing the latent virus have been discovered by a team of investigators from the University of Pittsburgh. The research is published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
The compounds the researchers tested came from a library of 418 different "kinase inhibitors." These pathways apparently include ones that can reverse latency of HIV-1 virus that has become integrated into the human genome. Thus, the research could lead to ways to permanently suppress HIV infections, said Benni E. Vargas, a Ph.D. student in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The researchers had infected the cell line with HIV-1 that then became dormant within the cells. The virus contained a "reporter gene," which would light up during reactivation so that the investigators would know if reactivation occurred. The cell cultures were then given an HIV-1 activating small molecule compound, and each culture was exposed to one of the 418 different kinase inhibitors.
A potential downside of the kinase inhibitors is possible toxicity to human cells, said Mr. Vargas. The investigators gauged toxicity by measuring cellular production of ATP, a compound manufactured in cells which functions as cellular fuel, within the tiny cellular motors, the mitochondria. A notable reduction in the quantity of ATP, as present, as compared to normal, would indicate toxicity, said Mr. Vargas. Twelve kinase inhibitors blocked reactivation irrespective of latency reversing agent, and two of these did so with minimal toxicity. The motivation for the research was that several other groups had previously identified inhibitors of kinases that block reactivation of the dormant HIV-1 provirus, said Mr. Vargas.