Human T-cell leukemia virus type (HTLV-I) is a type C retrovirus that has been linked to both adult T-cell leukemia and neurological disorders in humans. Baboons and other Old World non-human primates harbor a related virus termed simian T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (STLV-I), which may also be associated with neoplastic disease. To explore the utility of the baboon as a model for HTLV-I infection and disease, 329 baboons from a colony of 3200 at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) were analyzed for the presence of antibodies against STLV-I. An overall seroprevalence rate of >40% was found, with higher rates in females versus males. Furthermore, seroprevalence rates increased dramatically with age, reaching greater than 80% in animals over the age of 16. Molecular and antigenic analysis of proviral DNA isolated from both tumor tissue and a cell line isolated from a baboon with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) indicates that STLV-I in this colony is closely related to HTLV-I. Furthermore, monoclonally integrated provirus isolated from lymphoma tissue was detected, strongly implicating STLV-I in the etiology of this malignancy. DNA primer pairs homologous to HTLV-I sequences amplified both HTLV-I and STLV-I, but not HTLV-II, providing further evidence for a close genetic relationship between baboon-derived STLV-I and HTLV-I. The detailed study of a large population of naturally infected baboons may therefore shed some light into the complex processes required for the induction of disease associated with HTLV-I infection in humans.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases