Infectious transmission of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type II in rabbits

G. L. Cockerell, M. G. Weiser, J. Rovnak, B. Wicks-Beard, B. Roberts, A. Post, I. S Y Chen, Michael Dale Lairmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


To determine the susceptibility of rabbits to experimental infection with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type-II (HTLV-II), four separate groups of four weanling rabbits each were inoculated intravenously with lethally irradiated HTLV-II-infected human cell lines Mo-T (HTLV-IIMo-infected T cells), WIL-NRA (an Epstein-Barr virus [EBV]-transformed B-lymphoblastoid cell line infected with HTLV-IINRA), 729pH6neo (an EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell line transfected with a molecular clone of HTLV-IIMo), or G12.1 (HTLV-II - infected T cells from a Panamanian Guaymi Indian). Two additional groups of four rabbits each were similarly inoculated with control uninfected 729 or HuT 78 cells. Early and persistent seroconversion to HTLV-II core antigen p24, as determined by Western immunoblot, occurred in all HTLV-II - inoculated rabbits and was most intense in rabbits inoculated with G12.1 cells; seroreactivity to other HTLV-II gag or env antigens occurred later, with less intensity, or not in all inoculated rabbits. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and other lymphoid cells from HTLV-II - inoculated rabbits produced minimal p24 in vitro, as determined by enzyme immunosorbent capture assay. Virus was more readily detected by polymerase chain reaction amplification of HTLV-II pol sequences; this occurred most frequently in rabbits inoculated with Mo-T cells, and most frequently in PBMC as compared with other tissues tested (bone marrow, brain, and liver). No evidence of disease occurred in HTLV-II - inoculated rabbits observed for as long as 24 weeks. All control rabbits remained negative for evidence of HTLV-II infection, as determined by the same procedures. These results provide the first evidence of HTLV-II infection in a species other than humans, and demonstrate the usefulness of the rabbit as an animal model to study the biologic response to different isolates of this human retrovirus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1532-1537
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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