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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1999 Jan 20;15(2):203-15.

In vivo cell and tissue tropism of SIVsmmPBj14-bcl.3.

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Department of Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523, USA.


To gain insight into the unique pathogenicity of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) variant PBj14, which produces an acutely lethal enteropathic syndrome in infected pigtail macaques, we investigated the cell and tissue tropisms of a highly pathogenic biologic clone (bcl.3) of SIVsmmPBj14. To compare the relative amount of viral antigen in lymphoid organs of infected macaques we used an objective semiquantitative immunohistochemistry (sQIHC) assay. We found that in all animals viral antigen load was greater in alimentary-associated lymphoid tissues (gut-associated lymphoid tissue [GALT], tonsil, mesenteric and retropharyngeal lymph nodes) than in non-alimentary-associated lymphoid tissues (spleen, thymus, inguinal and axillary lymph nodes). Moreover, in six of nine animals examined, virus load in GALT was greater than that in any other lymphoid tissue. To determine whether the acute pathogenicity and prolific replication of SIVsmmPBj14 might be explained by a broader in vivo cell tropism than is typical of SIVs, we used cell subset separation and nested PCR. We found that the primary target cells in mesenteric lymph node for SIVsmmPBj14 were CD4+ T lymphocytes. However, the virus also infected macrophages, as well as CD8+ T cells and B cells, albeit at low frequencies. These results suggest that alimentary lymphoid tissue localization rather than unusual cell phenotype tropism distinguishes the singular pathogenesis of SIVsmmPBj14.

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