An eye on the benign: pathogenesis lessons from non-pathogenic SIV infections

Richard Jefferys, TAG

The November issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) contains an excellent review of research which aims to elucidate the benign nature of SIV infection in natural hosts (sooty mangabeys and African green monkeys). Guido Silvestri and colleagues outline current knowledge about the differences between non-pathogenic and pathogenic immunodeficiency virus infections with an emphasis on the now well-accepted role of immune activation in determining disease outcome.

The authors also offer the intriguing suggestion that perhaps non-pathogenic SIV infections have less impact on the function of CD4 T cells because the CD4 T cells that are infected are at a later stage of differentiation and are destined to undergo activation-induced death anyway; in this model, important self-renewing central memory CD4 T cells are not as disrupted by SIV and thus immunodeficiency does not ensue. While speculative, this represents an important area for future research.

The authors conclude by stressing that studies of benign SIV infections have made a huge contribution to understanding the pathogenesis of HIV infection in humans, and emphasize that additional studies will provide more important insights as well as potentially revealing new therapeutic targets for the treatment of the HIV and AIDS.

As with all JCI content, access to the full text of the paper is free of charge.


TAG Basic Science Blog (20 Nov 2007)


Silvestr G et al. Understanding the benign nature of SIV infection in natural hosts. J. Clin. Invest. 117:3148-3154 (2007). doi:10.1172/JCI33034.

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