J Virol. 2022 Oct 31:e0133922. doi: 10.1128/jvi.01339-22. Online ahead of print.
Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the causative agent of adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). However, the precise mechanisms leading to HTLV-1 chronic infection and the onset of the diseases have remained unclear, and effective vaccines for inhibiting the infection and the progression of pathogenesis have therefore not been developed. The use of a nonhuman primate (NHP) model is thought to be important for revealing the mechanisms of the progressive status and for the development of prevention procedures. In this study, we developed a cynomolgus macaque (CM) model of HTLV-1 infection by direct intravenous inoculation of HTLV-1-producing cells derived from ATL patients. The cell line used for infection, ATL-040, was selected as the most infectious one in our cell line library. CMs inoculated intravenously with 1 × 108 ATL-040 cells per animal became persistently infected with HTLV-1, as shown by the HTLV-1 provirus load (PVL) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and HTLV-1-specific antibodies (2/2 animals). One CM inoculated intravenously with 1 × 107 ATL-040 cells did not have detectable PVLs despite the fact that anti-HTLV-1 antibodies were maintained for more than 2 years. Furthermore, immunological approaches, including CD8+ T cell depletion prior to infection (3/3 animals) and intrathecal inoculation (3/3 animals), led to increased proviral loads in the cynomolgus monkeys. The present method and the cynomolgus monkey model of HTLV-1 infection will be beneficial for immunological and virological studies on HTLV-1 aiming at the development of anti-HTLV-1 prophylactic vaccines and therapy drugs. IMPORTANCE HTLV-1 was discovered in the 1980s as the causative agent of adult T-cell leukemia and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis. However, the precise mechanisms leading to HTLV-1 chronic infection and the onset of the diseases still remain unidentified. Thus, no effective vaccines to inhibit the infection and the progressive of pathogenesis have been developed. The use of appropriate animal models is essential for understanding HTLV-1 infection and pathogenesis. In order to establish a new nonhuman primate model for studies on HTLV-1 infection, cynomolgus monkeys were infected with HTLV-1 under a variety of experimental conditions. Our method, using a cell line generated from an ATL patient as a source of HTLV-1, was able to establish HTLV-1 infection in monkeys with a 100% success rate. This cynomolgus macaque model of HTLV-1 infection will contribute to the elucidation of HTLV-1 infection and its associated disease development.