Purpose of review: Soon after the discovery of HIV-infected humans, rhesus macaques in a colony at the New England Primate Research Center showed similar signs of a progressive immune suppression. The discovery of the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-associated disease opened the door to study an AIDS-like illness in nonhuman primates (NHP). Even after 3 decades, this animal model remains an invaluable tool to provide a greater insight into HIV immunopathogenesis. In this review, recent progress in deciphering pathways of immunopathogenesis in SIV-infected NHP is discussed.
Recent findings: The immense diversity of mutations in SIV stocks prepared at different laboratories has recently been realized. The massive expansion of the enteric virome is a key finding in SIV-induced immunopathogenesis. Defining the function of host restriction factors, like the recently discovered SAMHD1, helps to evaluate the impact of the innate immune responses on virus replication. Utilization of pyrosequencing and defining molecular mechanisms of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I restriction helps to understand how the virus evades CD8+ T-cell responses. The definition of MHC class I molecules in different NHP species provides new animal models to study SIV immunopathogenesis. T follicular helper cells have gained major interest in characterizing humoral immune responses in SIV infection and AIDS vaccine strategies. The ability of natural hosts to remain disease-free despite ongoing replication of SIV is continuing to puzzle the field.
Summary: The HIV research field continues to realize the immense complexity of the host virus interaction. NHP present an invaluable tool to make progress towards an effective AIDS vaccine.