Natural history of endemic type D retrovirus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome in group-housed rhesus monkeys

N. W. Lerche, P. A. Marx, K. G. Osborn, D. H. Maul, Linda J Lowenstine, M. L. Bleviss, P. Moody, R. V. Henrickson, M. B. Gardner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

37 Scopus citations


A 2.5-year epidemiologic study of a breeding group of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), which is a focus of endemic simian acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (SAIDS), demonstrated a strong association between the occurrence of SAIDS and infection with a type D retrovirus, SAIDS retrovirus serotype 1 (SRV-1). Of 23 healthy 'tracer' juvenile rhesus monkeys, 19 (83%) died with SAIDS within 9 months of introduction into the resident SAIDS-endemic population. In contrast, 21 healthy 'sentinel' juvenile rhesus monkeys placed in the same outdoor enclosure but denied physical contact with the SAIDS-affected group by a 10-foot-wide 'buffer zone' remained free of SRV-1, SRV-1 antibody, and disease for 2.5 years. The SAIDS-specific mortality rate was significantly higher in juveniles than in adults. In repeated serologic testing, the overall prevalence of SRV-1 antibody ranged from 68 to 85%. Antibody prevalence increased with age. Seroconversion was found to be a poor indicator of infection rate, as approximately 50% of virus-positive juvenile monkeys had no antibody detectable by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Repeated viral isolations from all animals revealed 1) SRV-1 viremia with clinical SAIDS; 2) persistent viremia and viral shedding in apparently healthy animals; 3) transient viremia and clinical recovery; 4) intermittent viremia, suggesting activation of latent infections; and 5) viremia in a 1-day-old infant, suggesting transplacental transmission. The prevalence of SRV-1 antibody in SAIDS-free breeding groups of rhesus monkeys was 4%. The seroprevalence of antibodies against human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV; formerly STLV-III) was uniformly low or absent in both SAIDS-free and SAIDS-affected groups of rhesus monkeys, demonstrating that these retroviruses are not etiologically linked to SAIDS at the California Primate Research Center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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