Frequent infection of neurons by SV40 virus in SIV-infected macaque monkeys with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy and meningoencephalitis

Saravanan Kaliyaperumal, Xin Dang, Christian Wuethrich, Heather L. Knight, Christine Pearson, John Mackey, Keith G. Mansfield, Igor J. Koralnik, Susan V. Westmoreland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Simian virus 40 (SV40), family Polyomaviridae, in immunocompromised macaques can cause fatal demyelinating central nervous system disease analogous to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy caused by John Cunningham (JC) virus in immunocompromised humans. Recently, we have demonstrated that JC virus can infect cerebellar granule cell neurons and cortical pyramidal neurons in immunosuppressed people. To examine whether SV40 neuronal infection occurs spontaneously in immunosuppressed macaques, we analyzed archival brain specimens from 20 simian immunodeficiency virus-infected rhesus with AIDS and 1 cynomolgus post-transplant selected with SV40 brain infection from archival records from 1991 to 2012. In addition to white matter SV40 distribution in classic demyelinating progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, some of the 21 monkeys exhibited meningeal, subpial neocortical, and periventricular virus. This distribution pattern corresponded to broader viral tropism with neuronal infection in 14 (66.7%) of 21 cases. In all 14 cases, identified neurons were positive for early SV40 transcript large T antigen, but only 4 of the 14 cases exhibited late viral transcript viral protein 1-positive neurons. SV40-infected neurons were detected in frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal cortices, hippocampus, thalamus, and brain stem. These observations confirm that spontaneous SV40 neuronal infection occurs in immunosuppressed macaques, which parallels JC virus-neuronal infection in immunosuppressed patients. Neuronal infection may be an important aspect of both SV40 and JC virus neuropathogenesis in their respective hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1910-1917
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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