During chronic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection prior to AIDS progression, the vast majority of viral replication is concentrated within B cell follicles of secondary lymphoid tissues. We investigated whether infusion of T cells expressing an SIV-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and the follicular homing receptor, CXCR5, could successfully kill viral-RNA+ cells in targeted lymphoid follicles in SIV-infected rhesus macaques. In this study, CD4 and CD8 T cells from rhesus macaques were genetically modified to express antiviral CAR and CXCR5 moieties (generating CAR/ CXCR5-T cells) and autologously infused into a chronically infected animal. At 2 days post-treatment, the CAR/CXCR5-T cells were located primarily in spleen and lymph nodes both inside and outside of lymphoid follicles. Few CAR/CXCR5-T cells were detected in the ileum, rectum, and lung, and no cells were detected in the bone marrow, liver, or brain. Within follicles, CAR/CXCR5-T cells were found in direct contact with SIV-viral RNA+ cells. We next infused CAR/CXCR5-T cells into ART-suppressed SIV-infected rhesus macaques, in which the animals were released from ART at the time of infusion. These CAR/CXCR5-T cells replicated in vivo within both the extrafollicular and follicular regions of lymph nodes and accumulated within lymphoid follicles. CAR/CXR5-T cell concentrations in follicles peaked during the first week post-infusion but declined to undetectable levels after 2 to 4 weeks. Overall, CAR/CXCR5-T cell-treated animals maintained lower viral loads and follicular viral RNA levels than untreated control animals, and no outstanding adverse reactions were noted. These findings indicate that CAR/CXCR5-T cell treatment is safe and holds promise as a future treatment for the durable remission of HIV.
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