Loss of memory CD4+ T-cells in semi-wild mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) naturally infected with species-specific simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmnd-1

20 Sep 2017

Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection is found in a number of African primate species and is thought to be generally non-pathogenic. However, studies of wild primates are limited to two species, with SIV infection appearing to have a considerably different outcome in each. Further examination of SIV-infected primates exposed to their natural environment is therefore warranted. We performed a large cross-sectional study of a cohort of semi-wild mandrills with naturally occurring SIV infection, including 39 SIV-negative and 33 species-specific SIVmnd-1-infected animals. This study was distinguished from previous reports by considerably greater sample size, examination of exclusively naturally infected animals in semi-wild conditions and consideration of simian T-lymphotropic virus (STLV) status in addition to SIVmnd-1 infection. We found that SIVmnd-1 infection was associated with a significant and progressive loss of memory CD4(+) T-cells. Limited but significant increases in markers of immune activation in the T-cell populations, significant increases in plasma neopterin and changes to B-cell subsets were also observed in SIV-infected animals. However, no increase in plasma soluble CD14 was observed. Histological examination of peripheral lymph nodes suggested that SIVmnd-1 infection was not associated with a significant disruption of the lymph node architecture. Whilst this species has evolved numerous strategies to resist the development of AIDS, significant effects of SIV infection could be observed when examined in a natural environment. STLVmnd-1 infection also had significant effects on some markers relevant to understanding SIV infection and thus should be considered in studies of SIV infection of African primates where present.