Type D retroviruses have recently been shown to induce a wasting syndrome with associated lymphadenopathy, thymic atrophy and transient decreased peripheral blood lymphocyte blastogenic responsiveness in juvenile macaque monkeys. The replication of D/New England virus was assessed in various lymphocyte subpopulations to determine the possible pathogenesis of the immune dysfunction induced by this virus. While D/New England did not replicate in cultured T lymphocytes or induce any demonstrable dysfunction of T cells , it did grow in the cells of the B lymphocyte lineage. D/New England growth occurred in African Burkitt's lymphoma and pre-B cell lines, but not in Epstein-Barr virus-transformed normal B lymphocytes. The infection of a restricted B lymphocyte population by this primate type D retrovirus may play a role in the aetiology of the immune abnormalities which it induces.


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