Inhibition of Adaptive Immune Responses Leads to a Fatal Clinical Outcome in SIV-Infected Pigtailed Macaques but Not Vervet African Green Monkeys
The distribution and levels of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in tissues and plasma were assessed in naturally infected African green monkeys (AGM) of the vervet subspecies (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) by limiting-dilution coculture, quantitative PCR for viral DNA and RNA, and in situ hybridization for SIV expression in tissues. A wide range of SIV RNA levels in plasma was observed among these animals (<1,000 to 800,000 copies per ml), and the levels appeared to be stable over long periods of time. The relative numbers of SIV-expressing cells in tissues of two monkeys correlated with the extent of plasma viremia. SIV expression was observed in lymphoid tissues and was not associated with immunopathology. Virus-expressing cells were observed in the lamina propria and lymphoid tissue of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as within alveolar macrophages in the lung tissue of one AGM. The range of plasma viremia in naturally infected AGM was greater than that reported in naturally infected sooty mangabeys. However, the degree of viremia in some AGM was similar to that observed during progression to AIDS in human immunodeficiency virus-infected individuals. Therefore, containment of viremia is an unlikely explanation for the lack of pathogenicity of SIVagm in its natural host species, AGM.