There are currently 5 million to 10 million human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-infected people, and many of them will develop severe complications resulting from this infection. A vaccine is urgently needed in areas where HTLV-1 is endemic. Many vaccines are best tested in nonhuman primate animal models. As a first step in designing an effective HTLV-1 vaccine, we defined the CD8+ and CD4+ T cell response against simian T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (STLV-1), a virus closely related to HTLV-1, in olive baboons (Papio anubis). Consistent with persistent antigenic exposure, we observed that STLV-1-specific CD8+ T cells displayed an effector memory phenotype and usually expressed CD107a, gamma interferon (IFN-γ), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). To assess the viral targets of the cellular immune response in STLV-1-infected animals, we used intracellular cytokine staining to detect responses against overlapping peptides covering the entire STLV-1 proteome. Our results show that, similarly to humans, the baboon CD8+ T cell response narrowly targeted the Tax protein. Our findings suggest that the STLV-1-infected baboon model may recapitulate some of the important aspects of the human response against HTLV-1 and could be an important tool for the development of immune-based therapy and prophylaxis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas