Localization of simian immunodeficiency virus in the central nervous system of rhesus monkeys

Andrew A. Lackner, Mary O. Smith, Robert J. Munn, Dale J. Martfeld, Murray B. Gardner, Preston A. Marx, Satya Dandekar

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150 Scopus citations


Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is a lentivirus that is both immunosuppressive and neurovirulent. Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) inoculated with SIV often develop a giant cell encephalitis similar to that seen in humans infected with HIV. The authors examined SIV expression by immunohistochemistry and RNA in situ hybridization in the cerebrum, cerebellum, choroid plexus, and spinal cord from five macaques with and two macaques without giant cell encephalitis. Selected portions of the central nervous system (CNS) also were examined by electron microscopy. Simian immunodeficiency virus was detected in the CNS of all seven monkeys whether or not they had giant cell encephalitis. Both SIV antigen and RNA were present in all levels of the CNS examined. Macrophage/giant cell lesions always contained viral RNA and antigen and were the only sites where viral particles were detected by electron microscopy. However, SIV antigen and RNA also were commonly associated with small vessels, the choroid plexus, and meninges; these were the only locations where virus was detected in animals without giant cell encephalitis. Immunophenotyping showed that the cellular infiltrates consisted primarily of monocytel macrophages and occasional CD8-positive T cells. Macrophages and T cells also were present in the stroma of the choroid plexus and were intimately associated with vessels in the CNS of SIV-infected but not uninfected macaques. Simian immunodeficiency virus infection of the macaque CNS provides an excellent model for studying the pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of HIV-1-encephalitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-621
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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