BACKGROUNDIn this study we successfully created a new approach to ART in SIVmac251 infected nonhuman primates. This drug regimen is entirely based on drugs affecting the pre-integration stages of replication and consists of only two nucleotidic/nucleosidic reverse transcriptase inhibitors (Nt/NRTIs) and raltegravir, a promising new drug belonging to the integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI) class.RESULTSIn acutely infected human lymphoid CD4+ T-cell lines MT-4 and CEMx174, SIVmac251 replication was efficiently inhibited by raltegravir, which showed an EC90 in the low nanomolar range. This result was confirmed in primary macaque PBMCs and enriched CD4+ T cell fractions. In vivo monotherapy with raltegravir for only ten days resulted in reproducible decreases in viral load in two different groups of animals. When emtricitabine (FTC) and tenofovir (PMPA) were added to treatment, undetectable viral load was reached in two weeks, and a parallel increase in CD4 counts was observed. In contrast, the levels of proviral DNA did not change significantly during the treatment period, thus showing persistence of this lentiviral reservoir during therapy.CONCLUSIONSIn line with the high conservation of the three main amino acids Y143, Q148 and N155 (responsible for raltegravir binding) and molecular docking simulations showing similar binding modes of raltegravir at the SIVmac251 and HIV-1 IN active sites, raltegravir is capable of inhibiting SIVmac251 replication both in tissue culture and in vivo. This finding may help to develop effective ART regimens for the simian AIDS model entirely based on drugs adopted for treatment in humans. This ART-treated AIDS nonhuman primate model could be employed to find possible strategies for virus eradication from the body.