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AIDS. 1990 Dec;4(12):1213-8.

Lymphocyte population changes in cats naturally infected with feline immunodeficiency virus.

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Department of Companion Animal and Special Species Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27606.


Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is associated with feline acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (FAIDS) and has been suggested as a model for HIV-induced human AIDS. The most obvious immunological defect in HIV infection is a reduction in CD4+ cell numbers and an inversion of the CD4:CD8 ratio. To determine whether the same is true in FIV infection, we analyzed by flow cytometry using a panel of monoclonal antibodies to feline lymphocyte populations the CD4:CD8 ratios in cats naturally infected with the virus. We report that 13 of 19 FIV-infected cats had ratios below the 5th percentile of normal cats (0.57, established from analysis of 39 normal cats) and 18 of 19 had ratios below 1. Repeated analyses over a period of several months revealed the inverted ratios to be consistent. Analysis of lymphocyte numbers in FIV-infected cats shows that the inverted ratios are due to a decrease in CD4+ T cells, while CD8+ T and B cells remain relatively normal in number. Analysis of a group of cats with a variety of other chronic diseases, including feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infections, revealed a near-normal distribution of CD4:CD8 ratios. These findings are similar to those in HIV infections and indicate that, like HIV, FIV causes a selective reduction in CD4+ cells and should be an excellent model for studying retrovirus-induced AIDS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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