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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1995 Sep;11(9):1073-80.

Development of a human thymic organ culture model for the study of HIV pathogenesis.

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  • 1HIV Group, SyStemix, Inc., Palo Alto, California 94304, USA.


The development of effective therapies for the treatment of AIDS would be facilitated by a better understanding of HIV pathogenesis in vivo. While some aspects of pathogenesis may be assessed by standard tissue culture assays, in vivo animal models may provide clues to other aspects of HIV-mediated progression toward AIDS. Current animal models include primate models for the study of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and HIV, SCID-hu and hu-PBL SCID mouse models for the study of HIV, and feline models for the study of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). In general these models are costly and labor intensive. We have developed a simple human fetal thymic organ culture (TOC) system that is permissive for HIV infection and that exhibits pathology similar to that observed in vivo. A key feature of this system is the time-dependent destruction of thymocytes typified by the preferential loss of CD4-expressing cells. HIV-mediated thymocyte destruction occurs by a process involving programmed cell death. We have infected TOC with a panel of HIV isolates and found that the resulting viral replicative and pathogenic profiles are similar to those seen in the SCID-hu Thy/Liv mouse, yet different from profiles observed in standard PHA-blast tissue culture assays. In addition, we find that TOC may be used to assess efficacy of antiviral agents such as AZT (3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine) and ddI (2',3'-dideoxyinosine) in blocking both viral replication and virus-induced pathology. These results indicate that this model is amenable to the systematic manipulation, analysis, and characterization of a variety of HIV virus isolates and antiviral therapies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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