We have recently developed a modified SCID-hu mouse model in which the implanted human thymus and liver (hu-thy/liv) and human peripheral T cells become infected with HIV-1 after i.p. inoculation. By using this model, we evaluated the effect of HIV-1 infection on thymic maturation and observed that different HIV-1 strains had divergent effects of thymic maturation. Although minimal effects on continued thymopoiesis in the hu-thy/liv implant were observed after chronic infection with two primary patient isolates, HIV-1(28) and HIV-1(59), and with HIV-1ADA, HIV-1Ba-L, HIV-1JR-CSF, HIV-1JR-FL, and HIV-1SF162, significant thymocyte depletion was detected after infection with HIV-1IIIB and HIV-1RF. Thus, the effect of HIV-1 infection on thymocyte maturation may depend upon the strain of HIV-1 infecting the thymus. Despite the minimal effects on thymopoiesis observed in the hu-thy/liv implanted in SCID-hu mice 6 mo after infection with HIV-1(28), significant changes were seen in the human T cell population circulating in the peripheral blood of these mice. These changes ranged from an inversion of the CD4/CD8 ratio of peripheral human T cells in some SCID-hu mice to the almost complete depletion of peripheral human T cells observed in other SCID-hu mice. Because these effects were associated with the detection of HIV-1 infection of the peripheral human T cells, these modified SCID-hu mice should prove to be a valuable model for investigating the effects of chronic HIV-1 infection on the peripheral human T cell population.

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