Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) causes a natural infection of domestic cats that resembles HIV-1 in pathogenesis and disease progression. Feline AIDS is characterized by depression of the CD4+ T cell population and fatal opportunistic infections. Maternal-fetal transmission of FIV readily occurs under experimental conditions, resulting in infected viable kittens and resorbed or arrested fetal tissues. Although both FIV and HIV use the chemokine receptor CXCR4 as a co-receptor, FIV does not utilize CD4 as the primary receptor. Rather, CD134 (OX40), a T cell activation antigen and co-stimulatory molecule, is the primary receptor for FIV. We hypothesized that placental expression of CD134 and CXCR4 may render the placenta vulnerable to FIV infection, possibly facilitating efficient vertical transmission of FIV, and impact pregnancy outcome. The purpose of this project was to quantify the relative expression of CD134 and CXCR4 mRNA from the term placentas of three groups of cats: uninfected queens producing viable offspring, experimentally-infected queens producing only viable offspring, and experimentally-infected queens producing viable offspring among mostly non-viable fetuses. Total RNA was extracted from term placental tissues from all groups of cats. Real-time one-step reverse transcriptase-PCR was used to measure gene expression. The FIV receptors CD134 and CXCR4 were expressed in all late term feline placental tissues. Placentas from FIV-infected queens producing litters of only viable offspring expressed more CD134 and CXCR4 mRNA than those from uninfected queens, suggesting that infection may cause upregulation of the receptors. On the other hand, placentas from FIV-infected cats with non-successful pregnancies expressed similar levels of CD134 mRNA and slightly less CXCR4 mRNA than those from uninfected queens. Thus, it appears that cells expressing these receptors may play a role in pregnancy maintenance.
- Feline immunodeficiency virus
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