The increasing prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype C infection worldwide calls for efforts to develop a relevant animal model for evaluating AIDS candidate vaccines. In China, the prevalent HIV strains comprise a circulating recombinant form, BC (CRF07_BC), in which the envelope belongs to subtype C.Methods
To evaluate potential AIDS vaccines targeting Chinese viral strains in non-human primate models, we constructed a simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) carrying most of the envelope sequence of a primary HIV-1 clade C strain isolated from an HIV-positive intravenous drug user from YunNan province in China. Furthermore, to determine whether in vivo adaptation would enhance the infectivity of SHIV-CN97001, the parental infectious strain was serially passaged through eight Chinese rhesus macaques.Results
Infection of six Chinese rhesus macaques with SHIV-CN97001 resulted in a low level of viremia and no significant alteration in CD4+ T-lymphocyte counts. However, the hallmarks of SHIV infectivity developed gradually, as shown by the increasingly elevated peak viremia with each passage.Conclusion
These findings establish that the R5-tropic SHIV-CN97001/Chinese rhesus macaque model should be very useful for the evaluation of HIV-1 subtype C vaccines in China.