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Li Su-Ling; Kaaya, E. E.; Ordónez, C.; Ekman, M.; Feichtinger, H.; Putkonen, P.; Böttiger, Disa; Biberfeld, G.; Biberfeld, P.
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes & Human Retrovirology: May 1995
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SummaryThymuses from 22 cynomolgus monkeys infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVsm) developed characteristic cortical and medullary changes including formation of B-cell follicles (8/21) and accumulation of virus immune complexes. Advanced thymic histopathology was correlated with more pronounced immunodeficiency. SIVsm provirus was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in most (16/18) thymuses and spliced viral env mRNA in 3 (3/7) thymuses with advanced histopathologic changes indicative of thymic SIVsm replication. By combined in situ hybridization (ISH) and immunohistochemistry, viral RNA was localized mainly to the follicular dendritic network, macrophages, multinucleated giant cells, and lymphocytes of the medullary regions. Latent infection by an Epstein-Barr-related herpesvirus (HVMF1) was also found by PCR and by ISH in medullary regions of three (3 of 8) thymuses with B-cell follicles, suggestive of an inductive role for B-cell proliferation in these thymuses. In a control group of HIV-2-infected nonimmunosuppressed monkeys, no comparable thymic changes were observed. Our results indicate that SIV, and probably by analogy HIV, can have direct and diverse pathogenic effects on the thymus that are important in the development of simian (human) AIDS.

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