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Retrovirology. 2010 May 28;7:49. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-7-49.

Prior mucosal exposure to heterologous cells alters the pathogenesis of cell-associated mucosal feline immunodeficiency virus challenge.

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Department of Veterinary Biosciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.



Several lines of research suggest that exposure to cellular material can alter the susceptibility to infection by HIV-1. Because sexual contact often includes exposure to cellular material, we hypothesized that repeated mucosal exposure to heterologous cells would induce an immune response that would alter the susceptibility to mucosal infection. Using the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) model of HIV-1 mucosal transmission, the cervicovaginal mucosa was exposed once weekly for 12 weeks to 5,000 heterologous cells or media (control) and then cats were vaginally challenged with cell-associated or cell-free FIV.


Exposure to heterologous cells decreased the percentage of lymphocytes in the mucosal and systemic lymph nodes (LN) expressing L-selectin as well as the percentage of CD4+ CD25+ T cells. These shifts were associated with enhanced ex-vivo proliferative responses to heterologous cells. Following mucosal challenge with cell-associated, but not cell-free, FIV, proviral burden was reduced by 64% in cats previously exposed to heterologous cells as compared to media exposed controls.


The pathogenesis and/or the threshold for mucosal infection by infected cells (but not cell-free virus) can be modulated by mucosal exposure to uninfected heterologous cells.

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