The development and persistence of virus-specific antibodies were investigated in eight cattle experimentally infected with the R29 isolate of bovine immunodeficiency-like virus (BIV). By 4 weeks postinoculation (p.i.), antibodies reactive to BIV gag- and env-encoded recombinant fusion proteins were detectable by immunoblotting in all animals. By 40 weeks p.i., seven of eight cattle had dramatically decreased Gag-specific antibodies, and anti-Gag reactivity remained very low or undetectable through 190 weeks p.i. Immunoprecipitation experiments revealed a similar loss of reactivity to nondenatured BIV Gag in these animals. In contrast, antibodies to a recombinant BIV Env protein were readily detectable throughout the study in all eight cattle. During the period of declining Gag antibody, infectious virus was recoverable from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of each animal. However, there was no evidence for sufficient amounts of BIV p26-containing immune complexes to explain the loss of anti-Gag reactivity. Interestingly, the single animal that maintained detectable anti-Gag reactivity throughout the study was repeatedly negative for virus recovery beyond 17 weeks p.i. All animals have remained clinically normal for over 4 years p.i., with no evidence of consistent changes in mononuclear cell subsets. These findings provide evidence that in BIV infection an early decline in Gag-specific antibody reactivity can occur without evidence of increasing viral replication or progression to overt clinical disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine