Indian rhesus macaques infected with the Rev-independent live-attenuated SIVmac239 strains control viremia to undetectable levels, have persistent but low cellular and humoral anti-SIV responses, and show no signs of immune deficiency. To analyze the immune mechanisms responsible for viral control, five macaques infected at day 1 after birth were subjected to CD8+ cell depletion at 6.7 y postinfection. This resulted in viremia increases to 3.7-5.5 log10 RNA copies, supporting a role of CD8-mediated responses in the control of viral replication. The rebounding viremia was rapidly controlled to levels below the threshold of detection, and occurred in the absence of SIV-specific CD8+ T cells and significant CD8+ T cell recovery in four of the five animals, suggesting that other mechanisms are involved in the immunological control of viremia. Monitoring immune responses at the time of viral control demonstrated a burst of circulating SIV-specific CD4+ T cells characterized as CD45RA-CD28 +CD95+CCR7- and also granzyme B+, suggesting cytotoxic ability. Control of viremia was also concomitant with increases in humoral responses to Gag and Env, including a transient increase in neutralizing Abs against the neutralization-resistant SIVmac239 in four of five animals. These data demonstrate that a combination of cellular responses mediated by CD4+ T cells and humoral responses was associated with the rapid control of the rebounding viremia in macaques infected by the Rev-independent live-attenuated SIV, even in the absence of measurable SIV-specific CD8+ T cells in the blood, emphasizing the importance of different components of the immune response for full control of SIV infection.
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