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Why some primates, but not humans, can live with immunodeficiency viruses and not progress to AIDS
Date:9/16/2008

o not develop AIDS despite high levels of ongoing SIV replication. Our studies sought to understand the basis for the very different responses to AIDS virus infections in different species," says Mark Feinberg, MD, PhD, the paper's senior author. Feinberg is a former investigator at the Emory Vaccine Center and the Yerkes Research Center and a professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine. He currently serves as vice president of medical affairs and policy for vaccines and infectious diseases at Merck & Co., Inc.

The reasons are found in significant differences in immune signaling in a specific type of dendritic cells in AIDS-susceptible or resistant host species. Dendritic cells are part of the immune system that play a key role in alerting the body to the presence of invading viruses or bacteria, and in initiating immune responses that enable clearance of these infections. They detect the invaders using molecules called Toll-like receptors.

Feinberg's team found that in sooty mangabeys, dendritic cells produce much less interferon alpha--an alarm signal to the rest of the immune system--in response to SIV. As a result, the dendritic cells are not activated during the initial or chronic stages of SIV infection, and mangabeys fail to mount a significant immune response to the virus. In contrast to mangabeys, dendritic cells from humans and macaques that are susceptible to developing AIDS are readily activated by HIV and SIV.

The difference in whether or not dendritic cells become activated upon AIDS virus exposure in specific primate hosts appears to result from species-specific differences in patterns of Toll-like-receptor signaling. Because host immune responses are unable to clear AIDS virus infections, ongoing virus replication leads to unrelenting activation of the immune system in humans and macaques.

Unfortunately, rather than promoting clearance of the infection, chronic dendritic cell stimulation may
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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