The aetiological agent of spontaneously occurring simian acquired immune deficiency syndrome (SAIDS) in rhesus monkeys () at the California Primate Research Center is a type D retrovirus designated SAIDS retrovirus serotype 1 (SRV-1). SRV-1 DNA and RNA have previously been detected in the brains of rhesus monkeys with SAIDS in the absence of viral antigen or neuropathological lesions. In this study we further define the relationship between SRV-1 and the central nervous system (CNS) in rhesus monkeys by examining the CNS for infectious SRV-1, viral antigen and anti-SRV-1 antibodies. In addition, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was assayed for alterations in IgG and albumin levels, IgG/albumin ratios and cell count in comparison to uninfected control animals. No differences in CSF parameters were detected between infected and uninfected animals except for the presence of infectious SRV-1 which was isolated from the CSF from 13 out of 19 (68%) viraemic rhesus monkeys. The probable source of this virus was the choroid plexus, where approximately 1 in 1000 surface epithelial cells were found to contain viral antigen by immunohistochemistry. Antibodies against SRV-1 were not detected in the CSF even when present in the serum. Neither infectious virus nor viral antigen were found in the brain parenchyma of any animal examined. Thus infection of the CNS by SRV-1 appears to be subclinical without an intrathecal immune response. This may be related to the apparent restriction of productive infection in the CNS to cells of the choroid plexus.


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