In vitro and In vivo Susceptibility of Baboons (Papio sp.) to Infection with and Apparent Antibody Reactivity to Simian Betaretrovirus (SRV)

Jo Ann L. Yee, Richard F. Grant, Koen K.A. Van Rompay, Jeffrey A. Roberts, La Rene Kuller, Jesse L. Cunningham, Joe H. Simmons, James F. Papin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the lack of confirmed reports of an exogenous Simian betaretrovirus (SRV) isolated from baboons (Papio sp.), reports of simian endogenous gammaretrovirus (SERV) in baboons with complete genomes suggest that such viruses may be potentially infectious. In addition, serologic tests have repeatedly demonstrated antibody reactivity to SRV in baboons from multiple colonies. These findings complicate the management and use of such animals for research. To provide further insight into this situation, we performed in vitro and in vivo studies to determine if baboons are or can be infected with SRV. In our initial experiment, we were not able to isolate SRV from 6 seropositive or sero-indeterminate baboons by coculturing their peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) with macaque PBMC or permissive cell lines. In a subsequent experiment, we found that baboon PBMC infected in vitro with high dose SRV were permissive to virus replication. To test in vivo infectibil- ity, groups of naive baboons were infused intravenously with either (i) the same SRV tissue culture virus stocks used for the in vitro studies, (ii) SRV antibody positive and PCR positive macaque blood, (iii) SRV antibody positive or indeterminate, but PCR negative baboon blood, or (iv) SRV antibody and PCR negative baboon blood. Sustained SRV infection, as defined by reproducible PCR detection and/or antibody seroconversion, was confirmed in 2 of 3 baboons receiving tissue culture virus but not in any recipients of transfused blood from seropositive macaques or baboons. In conclusion, the data indicate that even though baboon cells can be infected experimentally with high doses of tissue culture grown SRV, baboons that are repeatedly SRV antibody positive and PCR negative are unlikely to be infected with exogenous SRV and thus are unlikely to transmit a virus that would threaten the SPF status of captive baboon colonies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalComparative medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • veterinary(all)


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