Author(s): Langley RJ, Prince GA, Ginsberg HS
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Abstract Cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus and S. fulviventer) are susceptible to many viruses that infect humans (e.g., poliovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza virus, adenovirus, and parainfluenza virus) and have been influential in developing therapeutic clinical intervention strategies for many viral infections of man. This study set out to determine whether cotton rats are susceptible to infection with HIV type 1 (HIV-1). Results indicate that HIV-1 does infect the cotton rat and S. fulviventer is more susceptible than S. hispidus. The virus was passaged from animal to animal for a total of three serial passages; but HIV replicated poorly in vivo, was only detectable as proviral DNA, and never exceeded one provirus per 1.8 x 10(5) cotton rat peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Infection induced a distinct and characteristic anti-HIV antibody response that, in some animals, included neutralizing antibodies, recognized all of the major HIV-1 antigens and the antibodies lasted out to 52 wk post-infection. Neonate S. fulviventer were not more susceptible to infection than adults. In vitro culture studies produced indirect evidence of viral replication by detection of viral gag gene RNA in reverse transcriptase-PCR assays on viral culture supernatants. Collectively, these results indicate that HIV-1 can replicate in a nontransgenic rodent and that this system may have potential as an animal model for HIV-1 infection if viral replication rates can be improved in vivo.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals