J Med Virol 2011 Nov;83(11):1938-50
Biomedical Primate Research Center, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.
Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS) causes acute lymphoma and leukemia upon experimental infection of various monkey species. HVS strain C488 is also capable of transforming human T-lymphocytes to stable growth in culture. The most susceptible species for oncogenesis are New World primates, in particular the cottontop tamarin (Saguinus oedipus). However, Old World monkeys such as macaques are the most used animal model for the close-to-human situation. The limited data on HVS infection in Old World monkeys prompted us to investigate susceptibility to infection and disease induction by HVS in macaques. After having established that rhesus macaques can be infected productively, and that rhesus T-cells can be transformed in vivo by HVS, we observed induction of lymphoma in all inoculated animals. Pre-existing humoral immunity in part of the rhesus colony capable of blocking HVS infection could be overcome by preselecting rhesus macaques for lack of this immunity of unknown origin. HVS infection of rhesus macaques as compared to that of New World monkeys has the advantages that disease progression is more prolonged, and larger blood volumes can be collected, which allows more extended analyses. Also, rhesus monkeys are the best immunologically and immunogenetically characterized primate species next to humans. This model could be useful for the evaluation of candidate tumor vaccines and to test novel approaches for cancer immunotherapy. In addition, HVS infection of macaques could eventually be useful as a surrogate model to address certain questions in rhadinovirus-induced human cancer such as effusion lymphoma or Kaposi's sarcoma.