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Front Biosci. 2004 Jan 1;9:550-64.

The role of the immune response during SIVagm infection of the African green monkey natural host.

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Robert Koch-Institute, Nordufer 20, 13353 Berlin, Germany.


The African green monkey (AGM) is one of many African species endemically infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Like the other natural hosts, AGMs do not succumb to AIDS and understanding the basis for this resistance to disease progression would be of enormous theoretical and practical importance. Early efforts by our group that concentrated on identifying immune mechanisms presumed to keep the virus under control failed to find any obvious candidates. The presumption of virus control was invalidated by the finding that SIVagm replicates in AGMs with the same vigor as HIV-1 does in humans. Focus therefore shifted to identifying possible immunopathologic features present in disease susceptible hosts but absent in the AGM natural host. The apparent immunologic tolerance of AGMs to the SIVagm core protein led to the development of a hypothesis implicating anti-Gag antibodies in the formation of immune complexes, virus trapping in the lymph nodes and immune dysfunction. The idea proved difficult to test in vivo and present work focuses on the possibility that Gag tolerance at the T-cell level plays an important role in preventing the catastrophic demise of the immune system characteristic of immunodeficiency virus infection of the heterologous primate host.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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