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J Virol. 1995 February; 69(2): 955–967.
PMCID: PMC188664

Induction of AIDS by simian immunodeficiency virus from an African green monkey: species-specific variation in pathogenicity correlates with the extent of in vivo replication.


Previous studies suggested that simian immunodeficiency viruses isolated from African green monkeys (SIVagm) are relatively nonpathogenic. The report describes the isolation and biologic and molecular characterization of a pathogenic SIVagm strain derived from a naturally infected African green monkey. This virus induced an AIDS-like syndrome characterized by early viremia, frequent thrombocytopenia, severe lymphoid depletion, opportunistic infections, meningoencephalitis, and death of five of eight macaques within 1 year after infection. An infectious clone derived from this isolate reproduced the immunodeficiency disease in pig-tailed (PT) macaques, providing definitive proof of the etiology of this syndrome. Although the virus was highly pathogenic in PT macaques, no disease was observed in experimentally infected rhesus macaques and African green monkeys despite reproducible infection of the last two species. Whereas infection of PT macaques was associated with a high viral load in plasma, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and tissues, low-level viremia and infrequent expression in lymph nodes of rhesus macaques and African green monkeys suggest that differences in pathogenicity are associated with the extent of in vivo replication. The availability of a pathogenic molecular clone will provide a useful model for the study of viral and host factors that influence pathogenicity.

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