Open Access Research article

Different patterns of HIV-1 DNA after therapy discontinuation

Maria Carla Re1*, Francesca Vitone1, Laura Sighinolfi2, Pasqua Schiavone1, Florio Ghinelli2 and Davide Gibellini1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Section of Microbiology, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9-40138 Bologna, Italy

2 Department of Infectious Diseases, St Anna Hospital, Corso Giovecca, 203-44100 Ferrara, Italy

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2005, 5:69  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-5-69

Published: 12 September 2005



By persisting in infected cells for a long period of time, proviral HIV-1 DNA can represent an alternative viral marker to RNA viral load during the follow-up of HIV-1 infected individuals. In the present study sequential blood samples of 10 patients under antiretroviral treatment from 1997 with two NRTIs, who refused to continue any antiviral regimen, were analyzed for 16 – 24 weeks to study the possible relationship between DNA and RNA viral load.


The amount of proviral DNA was quantified by SYBR green real-time PCR in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from a selected group of ten patients with different levels of plasmatic viremia (RNA viral load).


Variable levels of proviral DNA were found without any significant correlation between proviral load and plasma HIV-1 RNA levels. Results obtained showed an increase or a rebound in viral DNA in most patients, suggesting that the absence of therapy reflects an increase and/or a persistence of cells containing viral DNA.


Even though plasma HIV RNA levels remain the basic parameter to monitor the intensity of viral replication, the results obtained seem to indicate that DNA levels could represent an adjunct prognostic marker in monitoring HIV-1 infected subjects.