Coinfection with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 2 (HTLV-2) and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has been reported to have either a slowed disease course or to have no effect on progression to AIDS. In this study, we generated a coinfection animal model and investigated whether HTLV-2 could persistently infect macaques, induce a T-cell response, and impact simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac251-induced disease. We found that inoculation of irradiated HTLV-2-infected T cells into Indian rhesus macaques elicited humoral and T-cell responses to HTLV-2 antigens at both systemic and mucosal sites. Low levels of HTLV-2 provirus DNA were detected in the blood, lymphoid tissues, and gastrointestinal tracts of infected animals. Exposure of HTLV-2-infected or naïve macaques to SIVmac251 demonstrated comparable levels of SIVmac251 viral replication, similar rates of mucosal and peripheral CD4+ T-cell loss, and increased T-cell proliferation. Additionally, neither the magnitude nor the functional capacity of the SIV-specific T-cell-mediated immune response was different in HTLV-2/SIVmac251 coinfected animals versus SIVmac251 singly infected controls. Thus, HTLV-2 targets mucosal sites, persists, and importantly does not exacerbate SIVmac251 infection. These data provide the impetus for the development of an attenuated HTLV-2-based vectored vaccine for HIV-1; this approach could elicit persistent mucosal immunity that may prevent HIV-1/SIVmac251 infection.
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