A study of two procedures of HIV-1 isolation from whole blood cultures.
Culture techniques for isolation of HIV-1 from small amounts of whole blood (WB) treated with anticoagulant have been reported and gave results identical to those of culture of separated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Some authors obtained much higher isolation rates when EDTA was used instead of heparin. We compared two previously described techniques for cultivation of HIV-1 from WB of adult HIV+ patients staged according to the CDC classification. In addition, we assessed the influence of the type of anticoagulant used for the collection of blood in viral replication in cell cultures from whole blood. Small volumes of WB treated with either heparin or EDTA were cocultivated with phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PHA-PBMC) from healthy donors. We used two procedures for WB culture: procedure I, based on the culture of 250 microliters of WB with 1 x 10(6) PHA-PBMC from donors; and procedure II based on the culture of 500 microliters of WB with 4 x 10(6) PHA-PBMC from donors. The cocultures were placed in 24-well plates and incubated for as long as 28 days in medium containing interleukin 2 (IL-2). Twice weekly half of the medium was replaced with fresh medium. In procedure II, one million fresh PHA-PBMC from donors was added on the 7th day of culture. The culture supernatant was assayed for the presence of HIV-1 p24 antigen in an enzyme immunoassay. The kinetics of HIV-1 replication in cultures of WB from 7 AIDS patients were similar using procedures I and II. In 8 HIV+ patients the isolation rate was higher with heparin- than with EDTA-treated samples. The isolation rate was higher in AIDS patients (n = 8) than in others with both methods. In stage IV patients without AIDS (n = 8) we failed to isolate HIV-1 in 1 patient with procedure I, whereas we succeeded with procedure II. In stage II, HIV-I was isolated in 1 of 4 patients with both methods. HIV was isolated in cultures of WB from patients receiving zidovudine or related nucleoside analogues and in cultures of WB from untreated patients. HIV-1 could not be isolated from WB of patients with more than 400 CD4+ T lymphocytes in their peripheral blood (n = 4); however, it was isolated from 14 of 16 patients with less than 400 CD4+ T lymphocytes. Our results suggest that procedure II is more sensitive than procedure I and that heparin is better than EDTA for collecting WB. We showed that the rate of HIV-1 isolation from WB increased in advanced-stage patients. Further studies are needed to define the clinical applications of WB culture.
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