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J Med Primatol. 2003 Apr;32(2):74-81.

Quantitative evaluation of Enterocytozoon bieneusi infection in simian immunodeficiency virus-infected rhesus monkeys.

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Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, MA, USA.


The association of the microsporidia Enterocytozoon bieneusi with chronic diarrhea and wasting in individuals with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has been demonstrated. The disease caused by E. bieneusi has been linked to decreased levels of circulating CD4+ T lymphocytes. In this study, we investigated the relationship between the extent of excretion of E. bieneusi in feces of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected juvenile macaques and the CD4+ T lymphocyte counts in the peripheral blood. Twelve juvenile rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were intravenously inoculated with the pathogenic molecular clone SIVmac239. Numbers of CD4+ T lymphocytes were assessed by three-color flow cytometry. The presence of E. bieneusi DNA in feces was assessed by nested PCR. In addition, selected samples of feces were examined by competitive quantitative PCR to assess the level of E. bieneusi infection. Low (n = 5) to undetectable (n = 7) quantities of E. bieneusi were present in feces of the twelve animals in prior to inoculation with SIV. After SIV inoculation the number of animals shedding E. bieneusi increased (n = 10) as did the quantity of E. bieneusi shedding in the feces. Of the twelve juvenile animals, five animals died within 8 months post-SIV inoculation with symptoms of AIDS. Four of the five deceased animals showed shedding of E. bieneusi DNA in feces (> or =100 spores/g) for at least three consecutive months. Increased number of E. bieneusi in feces was accompanied by decreased counts of circulating CD4+ T lymphocytes and increased SIV plasma viral load.

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