Measles virus infection in rhesus macaques: altered immune responses and comparison of the virulence of six different virus strains

J Infect Dis. 1999 Oct;180(4):950-8. doi: 10.1086/314993.


Measles remains a major cause of childhood mortality, with questions about virus virulence and pathogenesis still requiring answers. Rhesus macaques were infected with 5 different culture-adapted strains of measles virus, including 2 from patients with progressive vaccine-induced disease, and a sixth nonculture-adapted strain, Bilthoven. All caused infection detectable by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and induction of antibody. Chicago-1 and Bilthoven induced viremias detectable by leukocyte cocultivation. Bilthoven induced Koplik's spots, conjunctivitis, and rash. Lymphopenia and depressed interleukin (IL)-2 production were followed by monocytosis and eosinophilia. All monkeys, including 41 involved in a primate facility outbreak, showed suppressed responses to phytohemagglutinin. As the rash resolved production of IL-2, IL-1beta, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-6, and IL-5 mRNA increased. Monkeys are useful for studies of measles immunopathogenesis, but virus strains must be carefully chosen. Increased virulence of vaccine strains isolated from immunocompromised infants with fatal infections was not evident.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Female
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Measles / blood
  • Measles / immunology*
  • Measles / physiopathology*
  • Measles virus / classification
  • Measles virus / isolation & purification
  • Measles virus / pathogenicity*
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Vero Cells
  • Viremia / immunology
  • Viremia / physiopathology
  • Virulence


  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha