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J Virol. 1989 Oct;63(10):4277-84.

Genital mucosal transmission of simian immunodeficiency virus: animal model for heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus.

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  • 1California Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis 95616.


An animal model for the heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was developed by the application of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) onto the genital mucosas of both mature and immature, male and female rhesus macaques. Virus preparations were infused into the vaginal vaults or the urethras (males) of the animals through a soft plastic pediatric nasogastric feeding tube. The macaques that were infected by this route (six males and nine females) developed SIV-specific antibodies, and SIV was isolated from peripheral mononuclear cells of all seropositive animals. One male and one female infected by this route developed severe acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-like disease with retroviral giant-cell pneumonia. As few as two inoculations of cell-free SIV containing 50 50% tissue culture infective doses induced persistent viremia. Cell-free virus preparations were capable of producing infection by the genital route. Much higher doses of virus were required to transmit SIV by this route than are required for transmission by intravenous inoculation. Thus, it appears that the mucous membranes of the genital tract act as a barrier to SIV infection. Spermatozoa and seminal plasma were not required for the genital transmission of SIV. Rarely, SIV was recovered from mononuclear cells in semen and vaginal secretions. The SIV-rhesus macaque model is suitable for assessing the role of cofactors in heterosexual transmission of HIV and will be useful for testing the effectiveness of spermicides, pharmacologic agents, and vaccines in preventing the heterosexual transmission of HIV.

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