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Virology. 1998 Aug 15;248(1):95-107.

Mucosal transmission of pathogenic CXCR4-utilizing SHIVSF33A variants in rhesus macaques.

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Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, 10016, USA.


Infection of macaques with chimeric simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) expressing the envelope protein of HIV-1 provides a model system for studying HIV-1 infection in humans. To this end, four rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) were given a single intravaginal (IVAG) inoculation of cell-free SHIVSF33A and longitudinal samples of peripheral blood and lymph nodes were analyzed for viremia, antigenemia, and various T-cell populations. Rhesus macaques infected IVAG with SHIVSF33A demonstrated a dramatic decrease in the CD4(+) PBMC subset in the initial weeks after viral exposure, a time that corresponded to peak in plasma viremia and antigenemia. Within 4 months of SHIVSF33A inoculation, partial to complete rebound of the CD4(+) PBMC was seen in these animals. Notably, the regeneration of the CD4(+) subset was associated with regeneration of the naive T-cell population and was concordant with clearance of plasma viremia. DNA heteroduplex tracking assays revealed transmission of minor variants within the SHIVSF33A inoculum to the IVAG-inoculated animals. The cell-free SHIVSF33A inoculum as well as virus isolated from animals early after transmission used the chemokine molecule CXCR4 as the primary cellular coreceptor, demonstrating that viruses expressing envelope glycoproteins of the syncytia inducing (SI) phenotype can be transported across the vaginal mucosa. Although none of the animals has yet to develop clinical symptoms of simian AIDS (SAIDS), infectious virus and viral nucleic acids could be persistently isolated from each animal. Furthermore, animals transfused with blood from IVAG-infected macaques drawn 2 weeks after inoculation suffered a more profound and sustained CD4(+) T-cell loss, persistent plasma viremia, and the development of SAIDS in one animal, indicating that IVAG-passaged SHIVSF33A was pathogenic. Taken together, these results establish that a pathogenic CXCR4-utilizing SHIVSF33A species crossed the cervicovaginal mucosa. Different courses of infection in the IVAG versus transfusion animals suggest that host-mediated responses elicited upon transmission across mucosal barriers may serve to limit viral replication and delay disease progression in the IVAG-infected animals.

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