Plasma viremia in macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus: Plasma viral load early in infection predicts survival

Andrew Watson, Jane Ranchalis, Bruce Travis, Janela McClure, William Sutton, Philip R. Johnson, Shiu Lok Hu, Nancy L. Haigwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations


A reliable method for the quantitation of plasma viremia in nonhuman primates infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and related viruses is described. This method is based on an established quantitative- competitive PCR format and includes a truncated control for internal assay calibration. Optimization of assay conditions has significantly improved amplification specificity, and interassay variability is comparable to that of commercially available assays for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) quantitation. This procedure was used to monitor viral loads in a group of Macaca mulatta animals that were infected with SIVsmE660 for over 2 years. Highly diverse profiles of plasma viremia were observed among animals, and high viral loads were associated with more rapid disease progression. Spearman rank correlation analyses were done for survival versus three parameters of viral load: plasma viremia, p27 core antigen, and frequency of infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Plasma viremia had the strongest overall correlation and was significantly (P < 0.05 to P < 0.01) associated with survival at 10 of the 13 time points examined. Plasma viremia did not correlate with survival during the primary, viremia phase; however, the strength of this correlation increased with time postinfection and, remarkably, viremia levels as early as week 6 postinfection were highly predictive (P < 0.01) of relative survival. These findings are consistent with the available clinical data concerning viral load correlates early in HIV infection, and they provide further support for the view that disease outcome in lentiviral infection may be largely determined by events that occur shortly after infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-290
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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