Clinical and laboratory markers of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection were studied during the first 3 months after intravenous inoculation of rhesus macaques. Virus-binding serum antibody titres were correlated strongly with disease progression (P < 0.005) and were predictive of disease outcome by 7 weeks after inoculation. Low virus-binding serum antibody responses to SIV occurred in animals that also showed acute depletion of circulating CD20+ B cells. Acute damage to the CD4+ T cell and CD20+ B cell populations rendered some animals incapable of mounting virus-specific antibody responses and these macaques became the rapidly progressing cases comprising approximately 20-30% of infected animal cohorts.


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