While simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) are generally nonpathogenic in their natural hosts, dramatic increases in pathogenicity may occur upon cross-species transmission to new hosts. Deciphering the drivers of these increases in virulence is of major interest for understanding the emergence of new human immunodeficiency viruses (HIVs). We transmitted SIVsab from the sabaeus species of African green monkeys (AGMs) to pigtailed macaques (PTMs). High acute viral replication occurred in all SIVsab-infected PTMs, yet the outcome of chronic infection was highly variable, ranging from rapid progression to controlled infection, which was independent of the dynamics of acute viral replication, CD4+ T cell depletion, or preinfection levels of microbial translocation. Infection of seven PTMs with plasma collected at necropsy from a rapid-progressor PTM was consistently highly pathogenic, with high acute and chronic viral replication, massive depletion of memory CD4+ T cells, and disease progression in all PTMs. The plasma inoculum used for the serial passage did not contain adventitious bacterial or viral contaminants. Single-genome amplification showed that this inoculum was significantly more homogenous than the inoculum directly derived from AGMs, pointing to a strain selection in PTMs. In spite of similar peak plasma viral loads between the monkeys in the two passages, immune activation/inflammation levels dramatically increased in PTMs infected with the passaged virus. These results suggest that strain selection and a massive cytokine storm are major factors behind increased pathogenicity of SIV upon serial passage and adaptation of SIVs to new hosts following cross-species transmission.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science