High cell-free virus load and robust autologous humoral immune responses in breast milk of simian immunodeficiency virus-infected african green monkeys.
The design of immunologic interventions to prevent postnatal transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will require identification of protective immune responses in this setting. Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected rhesus monkeys (RMs), a species that develops an AIDS-like illness following experimental infection, transmit the virus at a high rate during breastfeeding. In contrast, postnatal transmission of SIV occurs rarely or not at all in natural, asymptomatic primate hosts of SIV. These contrasting transmission patterns provide a unique opportunity to study mechanisms that evolved to protect suckling infants from SIV infection. We compared the virologic and immunologic properties of milk of SIV-infected and uninfected natural hosts of SIV, African green monkeys (AGMs), to that of RMs. Interestingly, despite a low number of milk CD4(+) T lymphocytes in uninfected AGMs, milk virus RNA load in SIV-infected AGMs was comparable to that of SIV-infected RMs and that in AGM plasma. This observation is in contrast to the relatively low virus load in milk compared to that in plasma of SIV-infected RMs and HIV-infected women. Milk of SIV-infected AGMs also displayed robust virus-specific cellular immune responses. Importantly, an autologous challenge virus-specific neutralization response was detected in milk of five of six SIV-infected AGMs that was comparable in magnitude to that in plasma. In contrast, autologous challenge virus neutralization was not detectable in milk of SIV-infected RMs. The autologous virus-specific adaptive immune responses in breast milk of AGMs may contribute to impedance of virus transmission in the infant oral/gastrointestinal tract and the rarity of postnatal virus transmission in natural hosts of SIV.
Wilks, AB; Perry, JR; Ehlinger, EP; Zahn, RC; White, R; Gauduin, M-C; Carville, A; Seaman, MS; Schmitz, JE; Permar, SR
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