The feline thymus is a target organ and site of viral replication during the acute stage of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection. This was demonstrated by histologic, immunohistologic, flow cytometric, and virologic tests. Thymic lesions developed after 28 days postinoculation (p.i.) and included thymitis, premature cortical involution, and medullary B-cell hyperplasia with germinal center formation and epithelial distortion. Alterations in thymocyte subsets also developed. Fewer CD4+ CD8- cells were detected at 28 days p.i., while an increase in CD4- CD8+ cells resulted in an inversion of the thymic CD4/CD8 ratio of single-positive cells, similar to events in peripheral blood. Provirus was present in all thymocyte subpopulations including cortical CD1(hi), CD1(lo), and B cells. The CD1(hi) thymocyte proviral burden increased markedly after 56 days p.i., coincident with the presence of infiltrating inflammatory cells. Increased levels of provirus in the CD1(lo) thymocyte subpopulation were detected prior to 56 days p.i. This was likely due to inclusion of infected infiltrating inflammatory cells which could not be differentiated from mature, medullary thymocytes. Proviral levels in B cells also increased from 70 days p.i. Morphologic alterations, productive viral infection, and altered thymocyte subpopulations suggest that thymic function is compromised, thus contributing to the inability of FIV-infected cats to replenish the peripheral T-cell pool.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Journal of Virology|
|State||Published - Nov 1997|
ASJC Scopus subject areas