Journal of virology 2017 08 1091(17) pii 10.1128/JVI.00379-17
Infant humans and rhesus macaques infected with the human or simian immunodeficiency virus (HIV or SIV), respectively, express higher viral loads and progress more rapidly to AIDS than infected adults. Activated memory CD4(+) T cells in intestinal tissues are major primary target cells for SIV/HIV infection, and massive depletion of these cells is considered a major cause of immunodeficiency. Monocytes and macrophages are important cells of innate immunity and also are targets of HIV/SIV infection. We reported previously that a high peripheral blood monocyte turnover rate was predictive for the onset of disease progression to AIDS in SIV-infected adult macaques. The purpose of this study was to determine if earlier or higher infection of monocytes/macrophages contributes to the more rapid progression to AIDS in infants. We observed that uninfected infant rhesus macaques exhibited higher physiologic baseline monocyte turnover than adults. Early after SIV infection, the monocyte turnover further increased, and it remained high during progression to AIDS. A high percentage of terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase dUTP nick end label (TUNEL)-positive macrophages in the lymph nodes (LNs) and intestine corresponded with an increasing number of macrophages derived from circulating monocytes (bromodeoxyuridine positive [BrdU(+)] CD163(+)), suggesting that the increased blood monocyte turnover was required to rapidly replenish destroyed tissue macrophages. Immunofluorescence analysis further demonstrated that macrophages were a significant portion of the virus-producing cells found in LNs, intestinal tissues, and lungs. The higher baseline monocyte turnover in infant macaques and subsequent macrophage damage by SIV infection may help explain the basis of more rapid disease progression to AIDS in infants.IMPORTANCE HIV infection progresses much more rapidly in pediatric cases than in adults; however, the mechanism for this difference is unclear. Using the rhesus macaque model, this work was performed to address why infants infected with SIV progress more quickly to AIDS than do adults. Earlier we reported that in adult rhesus macaques, increasing monocyte turnover reflected tissue macrophage damage by SIV and was predictive of terminal disease progression to AIDS. Here we report that uninfected infant rhesus macaques exhibited a higher physiological baseline monocyte turnover rate than adults. Furthermore, once infected with SIV, infants displayed further increased monocyte turnover that may have facilitated the accelerated progression to AIDS. These results support a role for monocytes and macrophages in the pathogenesis of SIV/HIV and begin to explain why infants are more prone to rapid disease progression.