Chronic HIV-2 infection protects against total CD4+ cell depletion and rapid disease progression induced by SHIV89.6p challenge

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Objective:To better understand HIV-1 sexual transmission risk, we have studied the susceptibility of HIV-2-exposed, uninfected (EU) female pig-tailed macaques to intravaginal (IVAG) re-challenge with the homologous HIV-2 strain, followed by heterologous SHIV89.6p.Methods:Nine female macaques, previously protected by a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) regimen, along with one mock-treated EU animal, were re-exposed to HIV-2 by the IVAG route approximately 1.5 years later. A single follow-up challenge was performed approximately 1 year later with SHIV89.6p to assess susceptibility of chronic HIV-2-infected animals to further re-infection and pathogenic effects with a heterologous virus, somewhat mimicking HIV-1.Results:Eight of ten macaques (80%) became infected systemically with HIV-2, and plasma or cervicovaginal vRNA levels did not appreciably differ from prior historic non-PEP control macaques. Interestingly, all eight HIV-2-infected females were susceptible to SHIV89.6p infection by either intravenous (n = 4) or IVAG exposure (n = 4) after one inoculation. Plasma vRNA levels in these groups were controlled by week 8 and there were no decrease in CD4+ T cells > 50%. The remaining two HIV-2 EU macaques, inoculated intrarectally with SHIV89.6p, were unable to control virus replication and succumbed to disease by week 25 or week 61.Conclusions:Our findings demonstrate that successful PEP regimens to prevent an initial infection do not have any lasting protective effects. The observed lack of cross-protection against SHIV89.6p transmission among chronic HIV-2-infected macaques provides modeling support for limited epidemiologic data indicating that human HIV-2 infection does not protect against HIV-1 infection, but may serve to alter overt clinical outcome.

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