Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) persists indefinitely in individuals with HIV who receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) owing to a reservoir of latently infected cells that contain replication-competent virus1–4. Here, to better understand the mechanisms responsible for latency persistence and reversal, we used the interleukin-15 superagonist N-803 in conjunction with the depletion of CD8+ lymphocytes in ART-treated macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Although N-803 alone did not reactivate virus production, its administration after the depletion of CD8+ lymphocytes in conjunction with ART treatment induced robust and persistent reactivation of the virus in vivo. We found viraemia of more than 60 copies per ml in all macaques (n = 14; 100%) and in 41 out of a total of 56 samples (73.2%) that were collected each week after N-803 administration. Notably, concordant results were obtained in ART-treated HIV-infected humanized mice. In addition, we observed that co-culture with CD8+ T cells blocked the in vitro latency-reversing effect of N-803 on primary human CD4+ T cells that were latently infected with HIV. These results advance our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for latency reversal and lentivirus reactivation during ART-suppressed infection.
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