Background: Thus far, live attenuated SIV has been the most successful method for vaccinating macaques against pathogenic SIV challenge; however, it is not clear what mechanisms are responsible for this protection. Adoptive transfer studies in mice have been integral to understanding live attenuated vaccine protection in models like Friend virus. Previous adoptive transfers in primates have failed as transferred cells are typically cleared within hours after transfer.
Methodology/ principal findings: Here we describe adoptive transfer studies in Mauritian origin cynomolgus macaques (MCM), a non-human primate model with limited MHC diversity. Cells transferred between unrelated MHC-matched macaques persist for at least fourteen days but are rejected within 36 hours in MHC-mismatched macaques. Cells trafficked from the blood to peripheral lymphoid tissues within 12 hours of transfer.
Conclusions/significance: MHC-matched MCM provide the first viable primate model for adoptive transfer studies. Because macaques infected with SIV are the best model for HIV/AIDS pathogenesis, we can now directly study the correlates of protective immune responses to AIDS viruses. For example, plasma viral loads following pathogenic SIV challenge are reduced by several orders of magnitude in macaques previously immunized with attenuated SIV. Adoptive transfer of lymphocyte subpopulations from vaccinated donors into SIV-naïve animals may define the immune mechanisms responsible for protection and guide future vaccine development.