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Blood. 2007 Feb 1;109(3):1174-81. Epub 2006 Oct 17.

Massive infection and loss of CD4+ T cells occurs in the intestinal tract of neonatal rhesus macaques in acute SIV infection.

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  • 1Tulane National Primate Research Center, Tulane University School of Medicine, Covington, LA 70433, USA.


Rapid, profound, and selective depletion of memory CD4+ T cells has now been confirmed to occur in simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected adult macaques and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected humans. Within days of infection, marked depletion of memory CD4+ T cells occurs primarily in mucosal tissues, the major reservoir for memory CD4+ T cells in adults. However, HIV infection in neonates often results in higher viral loads and rapid disease progression, despite the paucity of memory CD4+ T cells in the peripheral blood. Here, we examined the immunophenotype of CD4+ T cells in normal and SIV-infected neonatal macaques to determine the distribution of naive and memory T-cell subsets in tissues. We demonstrate that, similar to adults, neonates have abundant memory CD4+ T cells in the intestinal tract and spleen and that these are selectively infected and depleted in primary SIV infection. Within 12 days of SIV infection, activated (CD69+), central memory (CD95+CD28+) CD4+ T cells are marked and persistently depleted in the intestine and other tissues of neonates compared with controls. The results in dicate that "activated" central memory CD4+ T cells are the major target for early SIV infection and CD4+ T cell depletion in neonatal macaques.

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