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Alterations of thymus cortical epithelium and interdigitating dendritic cells but no increase of thymocyte cell death in the early course of simian immunodeficiency virus infection.
Muller JG; Krenn V; Schindler C; Czub S; Stahl-Hennig C; Coulibaly C;
December 30, 1993
Am J Pathol. 1993 Sep;143(3):699-713. Unique Identifier : AIDSLINE

The role of the thymus in the pathogenesis of simian acquired immunodeficiency syndrome was investigated in 18 juvenile rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). The thymus was infected from the first week post-SIVmac inoculation, but the amount of virus-positive cells was very low (< 1 in 10(4) T cells) as demonstrated by polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization. First morphological alteration was a narrowing of the cortex at 12 and 24 wpi. Morphometry revealed no increase of pyknotic T cells but a decrease of the proliferation rate and flow cytometry showed a reduction of the immature CD4+/CD8+ double-positive T cells. Ultrastructural analysis revealed vacuolization, shrinkage, and finally cytolysis of the cortical epithelial cells and the interdigitating dendritic cells. Immunofluorescence staining exhibited a widespread loss of cortical epithelial cells. This damage to the thymic microenvironment could explain the breakdown of the intrathymic T cell proliferation. It preceded fully developed simian acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and is therefore considered to play a major role in its pathogenesis.

Animal Cell Death Dendritic Cells/*PATHOLOGY/ULTRASTRUCTURE Epithelium/PATHOLOGY Flow Cytometry Fluorescent Antibody Technique Immunohistochemistry In Situ Hybridization Lymph Nodes/PATHOLOGY Macaca mulatta Microscopy, Electron Polymerase Chain Reaction Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome/*PATHOLOGY Support, Non-U.S. Gov't SIV Thymus Gland/*PATHOLOGY/ULTRASTRUCTURE Time Factors JOURNAL ARTICLE