Virulence differences between two field isolates of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV-APetaluma and FIV-CPGammar) in young adult specific pathogen free cats

Niels C Pedersen, Christian M. Leutenegger, Jennifer Woo, Joanne Higgins

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63 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to identify a strain of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) that would be more virulent for adult cats than the prototype FIV-APetaluma and, thereby, enhance the FIV infection model for HIV-1 related research. Diehl et al. reported that one clade C strain of FIV, FIV-CPGammar, was more virulent than other known FIV isolates. Mortalities from 58 to 100% were reported for kittens 12 weeks of age and less following intravenous inoculation. A more variable and somewhat less virulent disease course was observed in neonatal to 8-10-week-old kittens infected orally, intravaginally or intrarectally with this same isolate (Obert and Hoover, 2000). However, no studies have been done with FIV-CPGammar in adult cats. Therefore, the virulence of FIV-CPGammar for young adult cats was compared to that of FIV-APetalulma, the original FIV isolate. One group of five cats were inoculated intraperitoneally with 470 TCID50 of FIV-CPGammar in the form of pooled plasma from acutely infected cats, while a second group was infected with plasma containing the 750 TCID50 of FIV-APetaluma. The cats were observed for 20 weeks for gross signs of disease, hematologic abnormalities, time of antibody appearance, and plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) associated virus levels. Viral RNA and proviral DNA were measured by a real-time PCR, sensitive to 50 copies per milliliter. The only outward sign of disease was lymphadenopathy, which occurred at a similar time and intensity in both groups of cats. Cats infected with FIV-CPGammar were more likely to be neutropenic and lymphopenic during the first 10-12 weeks of infection than cats infected with FIV-APetaluma. Both groups of cats showed similar overall declines in absolute mean CD4 cell counts and identical concomitant increases in CD8 cells. CD4/CD8 cell ratios were also similar. Antibody, as measured by an ELISA against recombinant FIV-TM antigen, appeared in all cats by 4 weeks post-infection. The most significant differences were in plasma viral RNA and PBMC proviral DNA levels. Cats infected with FIV-CPGammar had up to 100 times higher mean levels of viral RNA during the first few weeks of infection than cats infected with FIV-APetaluma. This difference was also mirrored in levels of proviral DNA in PBMC, which were significantly higher in the FIV-CPGammar infected cats. Plasma viral RNA and PBMC proviral DNA levels were virtually identical in both groups of cats at 20 weeks post-infection. However, proviral DNA in tissues such as thymus and popliteal lymph nodes was 10-fold or so higher in FIV-CPGammar infected cats at 20 weeks and histopathologic lesions were more severe. Based on these various parameters, we concluded that FIV-CPGammar was more virulent than FIV-APetaluma in young adult cats during the 20-week study period. However, we were not able to recreate the severe and rapidly progressive disease previously reported for kittens, suggesting an age-related resistance similar to that observed previously for FIV-APetaluma (George et al., 1993).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-67
Number of pages15
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 10 2001


  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • FIV-APetaluma
  • FIV-CPGammar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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