Effects of alcohol consumption on antigen-specific cellular and humoral immune responses to SIV in rhesus macaques

Bapi Pahar, Angela M. Amedee, Jessica Thomas, Jason P. Dufour, Ping Zhang, Steve Nelson, Ronald S. Veazey, Gregory J. Bagby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection in macaques chronically receiving ethanol results in significantly higher plasma viral loads and more rapid progression to end-stage disease. We thus hypothesized that the increased plasma viral load in ethanol treated SIV-infected macaques would negatively correlate with antigen-specific immune responses. METHODS: Rhesus macaques were administered ethanol or sucrose (n=12 per group) by indwelling gastric catheters for 3 months, and then intravenously infected with SIVMAC251. Peripheral blood T and B-cells immunophenotyping and quantification was performed. Plasma was examined for viremia, levels of SIV-Env-specific binding, and neutralizing antibodies. Virus-specific IFNγ and TNFα cytokine responses to SIV-Nef, Gag or Env peptide pools were measured in peripheral blood CD8+ T-cells. RESULTS: Macaques receiving ethanol had both higher plasma viremia and virus-specific cellular immune responses compared to the sucrose-treated group. The emergence of virus-specific cytokine responses temporally correlated with the decline in mean plasma viral load after 14 days post infection in all SIV infected animals. However, neither the breadth and specificity nor the magnitude of virus-specific CD8+ T-cell responses correlated with early post peak reductions in plasma viral loads. In fact, increased cytokine responses against Gag, gp120 and gp41 positively correlated with plasma viremia. Levels of SIV envelope-specific IgG and neutralizing antibodies were similar over the disease course in both groups of macaques. CONCLUSIONS: Persistently higher antigen-specific cytokine responses in animals receiving ethanol are likely an effect of the higher viral loads and antigen persistence, rather than a cause of the increased viremia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-341
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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