• CD4/CD8;
  • HIV;
  • hu-PBL-SCID;
  • immunotherapy;
  • RAPA


The capacity of the immunomodulatory drug rapamycin (RAPA) to inhibit replication of the CCR5 strain of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in vitro prompted us to test its effects in a murine preclinical model of HIV infection. RAPA (0·6 or 6 mg/kg body weight) or its vehicle were administered daily, per os, to SCID mice reconstituted with human peripheral blood leucocytes (hu-PBL) starting 2 days before the intraperitoneal challenge with the R5 tropic SF162 strain of HIV-1 (1000 50% tissue culture infective dose/ml). Relative to hu-PBL-SCID mice that received no treatment, HIV-infected hu-PBL-SCID mice treated with the vehicle control for 3 weeks exhibited a severe depletion of CD4+ cells (90%), an increase in CD8+ cells and an inversion of the CD4+/CD8+ cell ratio. In contrast, treatment of HIV-infected mice with RAPA prevented a decrease in CD4+ cells and the increase of CD8+ cells, thereby preserving the original CD4: CD8+ cell ratio. Viral infection also resulted in the detection of HIV-DNA within peritoneal cells and spleen, and lymph node tissues of the vehicle-treated mice within 3 weeks of the viral challenge. In contrast, treatment with RAPA decreased cellular provirus integration and reduced HIV-RNA levels in the blood. Furthermore, in co-cultivation assays, spleens from RAPA-treated mice exhibited a reduced capacity for infecting allogeneic T cells which was dose-dependent. These data show that RAPA possesses powerful anti-viral activity against R5 strains of HIV in vivo and support the use of additional studies to evaluate the potential application of this drug in the management of HIV patients.