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J Neurovirol. 1998 Jun;4(3):260-8.

Simian immunodeficiency virus encephalitis in rhesus macaques is associated with rapid disease progression.

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New England Regional Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, Massachusetts 01772, USA.


Central nervous system (CNS) disease is a major feature of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of macaques. To define the spectrum of CNS lesions in SIV-infected macaques and the potential associations with viral strain and disease course, we performed a retrospective analysis of necropsies on 124 macaques with SIV-induced AIDS. Histologic evidence of CNS disease was observed in 71 (57.3%) of the 124 animals. SIV encephalitis was the most common CNS lesion occurring in 43.7% (31/71) of the animals with CNS disease and 25% of all animals. The incidence of SIVE correlated significantly with shortened survival (P=0.0207). In addition, SIVE was seen in 42.9% (15/35) of rapid progressors (animals that died within 200 days) compared to only 18% (16/89) of normal progressors (animals that lived longer than 200 days) (P=0.011). Animals with SIVE had higher viral loads in peripheral blood than those that did not, but this difference did not reach statistical significance. Similarly, while animals infected with uncloned SIVmac251 had a higher incidence of SIVE (27.5%; 14/51) than animals infected with molecularly cloned SIVmac239 and its T-cell tropic derivatives (18.5%; 10/54) this difference was not statistically significant. In this study rapid disease progression and SIVE were highly correlated making separation of viral determinants of virulence from those of neurovirulence difficult.

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