Background: The use of a stem cell source homozygous for the CCR5 delta32 mutation is of particular interest in HIV+ patients in need of an allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (SCT) given the high natural resistance against HIV-1 acquisition. In the absence of such cell source, the impact of allogeneic SCT on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reservoirs in patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is unknown.

Methods: Size of HIV-1 reservoirs was investigated in 3 patients with hematological malignancies receiving cART, who underwent allogeneic SCT (Table 1). Patient 1 received a myeloablative single cord blood (wild type (WT) CCR5), supported with third party HLA-mismatched CD34+ cells (haplo-cord SCT). Patients 2 and 3 underwent reduced intensity conditioning SCT of an HLA-matched sibling (heterozygous CCR5 delta32 donor and WT CCR5 donor, respectively). In-depth analysis of the HIV-1 reservoir was performed in the post-transplant period using droplet digital PCR and hemi-nested qPCR (proviral DNA copies/million PBMC). Chimerism analysis was performed by short tandem repeat PCR (STR-PCR).

Results: Proviral DNA showed a decreasing dynamics after allogeneic SCT and became undetectable in all 3 patients at 9, 18 and 1 months, respectively (Table 1). In patient 1, negativity of proviral HIV-1 DNA coincided with achievement of complete chimerism while being free of immunosuppression. Patient 2 showed undetectable proviral DNA together with the development of skin chronic GvHD. Finally, undetectable proviral DNA and complete chimerism was achieved in patient 3 early after transplantation. All patients remained in complete hematological remission.

Conclusion: All our patients showed a small HIV-1 reservoir after allogeneic SCT. The coincidence of achievement of negative proviral HIV-1 DNA and complete chimerism and/or development of GvHD suggests a role of Ògraft versus HIV-1 reservoir effectÓ in the control of HIV infection.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.