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Virology. 2004 Jun 1;323(2):208-19.

Persistence of low levels of simian immunodeficiency virus in macaques that were transiently viremic by conventional testing.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Transient SIV viremia after experimental SIV challenge has been documented. Whether SIV persists in these transiently viremic macaques remains unclear. In the present study, we applied a sensitive PCR and found persistent low levels of SIVmne infection (LLSI) (range: 0.1-5.3 SIV DNA copies/10(6) PBMC) in seven macaques that were transiently positive by conventional assays, which was 10(2)- to 10(6)-fold less than those of SIVmne infected monkeys with typical disease progression. SIV envelope V1 sequences remained homogeneous in these macaques for the 6-year study period, with a mean evolution rate of 0.005% per site per year, which was not different from zero (P = 0.612) and significantly lower than that (0.56-1.18%) in macaques with progressive infection of SIVmne. LLSI macaques have remained free from SIV-associated illness, and are still alive 10 years after virus inoculation. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this outcome may provide valuable insight into therapy and vaccine development.

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