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J Virol. 1999 Dec;73(12):10236-44.

Lymphocyte activation during acute simian/human immunodeficiency virus SHIV(89.6PD) infection in macaques.

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Department of Pathology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53705-1532, USA.


Host-virus interactions control disease progression in human immunodeficiency virus-infected human beings and in nonhuman primates infected with simian or simian/human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIV). These interactions evolve rapidly during acute infection and are key to the mechanisms of viral persistence and AIDS. SHIV(89.6PD) infection in rhesus macaques can deplete CD4(+) T cells from the peripheral blood, spleen, and lymph nodes within 2 weeks after exposure and is a model for virulent, acute infection. Lymphocytes isolated from blood and tissues during the interval of acute SHIV(89.6PD) infection have lost the capacity to proliferate in response to phytohemagglutinin (PHA). T-cell unresponsiveness to mitogen occurred within 1 week after mucosal inoculation yet prior to massive CD4(+) T-cell depletion and extensive virus dissemination. The lack of mitogen response was due to apoptosis in vitro, and increased activation marker expression on circulating T cells in vivo coincided with the appearance of PHA-induced apoptosis in vitro. Inappropriately high immune stimulation associated with rapid loss of mature CD4(+) T cells suggested that activation-induced cell death is a mechanism for helper T-cell depletion in the brief period before widespread virus dissemination. Elevated levels of lymphocyte activation likely enhance SHIV(89.6PD) replication, thus increasing the loss of CD4(+) T cells and diminishing the levels of virus-specific immunity that remain after acute infection. The level of surviving immunity may dictate the capacity to control virus replication and disease progression. We describe this level of immune competence as the host set point to show its pivotal role in AIDS pathogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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