Correlation Between Viral RNA Levels but Not Immune Responses in Plasma and Tissues of Macaques With Long-Standing SIVmac251 Infection

Virology. 2005 Mar 1;333(1):159-68. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2005.01.003.


Plasma virus in human immunodeficiency virus type 1/simian immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1/SIV) infection most likely results from the combination of viruses produced in different tissues. As immunological pressure may be higher in effector sites than secondary lymphoid tissues, we investigated quantitative and qualitative changes in viral RNA in blood and tissues of 10 Mamu-A*01-positive SIV-infected macaques in parallel with the frequency of CD8+ T cells recognizing the dominant Gag181-189 CM9 epitope. The plasma virus level in these macaques directly correlated with the viral RNA levels in lymph nodes, spleen, lungs, colon, and jejunum. In contrast, the frequency of the Gag181-189 CM9 tetramer did not correlate with SIV RNA levels in any compartment. We investigated the presence of viral immune escape in RNA from several tissues. The complete substitution of wild-type genotype with viral immune-escape variant within the Gag181-189 CM9 epitope was associated with low tetramer response in all tissues and blood of two macaques. In one macaque, the replacement of wild type with an immune-escape mutant was asynchronous. While the mutant virus was prevalent in blood and effector tissues (lungs, jejunum, and colon), secondary lymphoid organs such as spleen and lymph nodes still retained 80% and 40%, respectively, of the wild-type virus. These results may imply that there are differences in the immunological pressure exerted by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) in tissue compartments of SIVmac251-infected macaques.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / genetics
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Epitopes / genetics
  • Intestines / virology
  • Lung / virology
  • Lymph Nodes / virology
  • Macaca
  • Mutation
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / blood*
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology*
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / virology*
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / genetics
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / immunology
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / isolation & purification
  • Spleen / virology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Epitopes
  • RNA, Viral