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Virology. 2007 Oct 10;367(1):196-211. Epub 2007 Jun 15.

Induction of potent local cellular immunity with low dose X4 SHIV(SF33A) vaginal exposure.

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Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, The Rockefeller University, 455 First Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Intravaginal inoculation of rhesus macaques with varying doses of the CXCR4 (X4)-tropic SHIV(SF33A) isolate revealed a threshold inoculum for establishment of systemic virus infection and a dose dependency in overall viral burden and CD4+ T cell depletion. While exposure to inoculum size of 1000 or greater 50% tissue infectious dose (TCID(50)) resulted in high viremia and precipitous CD4+ T cell loss, occult infection was observed in seven of eight macaques exposed to 500 TCID(50) of the same virus. The latter was characterized by intermittent detection of low level virus with no evidence of seroconversion or CD4+ T cell decline, but with signs of an ongoing antiviral T cell immune response. Upon vaginal re-challenge with the same limiting dose 11-12 weeks after the first, classic pathogenic X4 SHIV(SF33A) infection was established in four of the seven previously exposed seronegative macaques, implying enhanced susceptibility to systemic infection with prior exposure. Pre-existing peripheral SIV gag-specific CD4+ T cells were more readily demonstrable in macaques that became systemically infected following re-exposure than those that were not. In contrast, early presence of circulating polyfunctional cytokine secreting CD8+ T cells or strong virus-specific proliferative responses in draining lymph nodes and in the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) following the first exposure was associated with protection from systemic re-infection. These studies identify the gut and lymphoid tissues proximal to the genital tract as sites of robust CD8 T lymphocyte responses that contribute to containment of virus spread following vaginal transmission.

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