Mouse model shows potential efficacy of HIV prevention strategy

Jan 15, 2008

A new kind of laboratory mouse can be used to test the efficacy of much-needed methods to prevent transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to research by J. Victor Garcia and colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The findings, published in PLoS Medicine, demonstrate the utility of such mice for animal testing of pre-exposure antiviral drugs to protect against HIV infection. Such mice also provide a new way of evaluating microbicides and other prevention approaches that have generally required testing in macaques, using viruses that are related, but not identical, to HIV.

Unmodified mice cannot be infected with HIV. Earlier laboratory-modified mice, such as the SCID-hu mouse, contain human thymic tissue that can only become infected after direct injection, but not through any of the natural routes of HIV transmission in humans including the genital route. However, of the 2.5 million newly acquired HIV infections estimated to have occurred in 2007, more than half were in women, mostly through unprotected vaginal sex with an infected male partner.

The new development involves “BLT” mice, which have been transplanted with human blood cells, liver, and thymus tissue. The researchers found that human cells necessary for HIV infection distributed themselves in the female reproductive tract of BLT mice, rendering them susceptible to vaginal infection with HIV. They also found that infection spread to other organs in a way that resembles the course of HIV infection in humans. Finally, they showed that vaginal infection could be blocked by treating the mice with antiretroviral drugs that are currently being evaluated as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) -- a possible means of HIV prevention in humans at risk for sexual exposure to HIV.

These findings support the promising results of PrEP studies from established, but costly, macaque models. Whether the BLT mouse – or any animal model -- provides a reliable predictor of HIV prevention in humans can only be determined by comparison of animal experiments to actual human trials.

The paper is discussed in a related perspective article by Barbara Shacklett (University of California Davis), entitled “Can the New Humanized Mouse Model Give HIV Research a Boost?” At this stage, says Dr Shacklett, “the most prudent approach is to consider the new humanized rodents and the more established, nonhuman primate models as complementary systems, both of which can yield useful information but neither of which is infallible.”

Citation: Denton PW, Estes JD, Sun Z, Othieno FA, Wei BL, et al. (2008) Antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis prevents vaginal transmission of HIV-1 in humanized BLT mice. PLoS Med 5(1) e16.

Article: medicine.plosjournals.org/perl… journal.pmed.0050016

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Study models ways to cut Mexico's HIV rates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A reductionist approach to HIV research

Nov 30, 2009

A major obstacle to HIV research is the virus's exquisite specialisation for its human host - meaning that scientists' traditional tools, like the humble lab mouse, can deliver only limited information. Now, a team of researchers ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Apr 17, 2014

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

Quick test finds signs of diarrheal disease

Feb 06, 2014

Bioengineers at Rice University and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston have developed a simple, highly sensitive and efficient test for the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis that ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0