Abstract

An earlier finding that lymphocytes from African patients with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) react with rabbit antiserum to purified antigens of bovine leukemia virus (BLV) prompted a study of the possible cross-reactions between a BLV-infected ovine cell line and human lymphocytes inoculated with a strain of lymphadenopathy syndrome-associated virus (LAV). A solid-phase radioimmunoassay was used to detect antigenic markers of the retroviruses. Crude extracts from short-term cultures of lymphocytes infected with LAV bound rabbit antisera to the LAV glycoprotein gp13 (molecular weight 13,000) and the BLV proteins p24 and gp51, but did not bind antibodies to the p24 of human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I). Antiserum to LAV gp13 reacted with an ovine cell line producing BLV but also weakly with virus-free ovine cells. Lymphocyte cultures from four African patients with AIDS expressed BLV-related antigens within 6 to 10 days of culture, at the moment when particle-bound reverse transcriptase was produced. BLV-related antigens were induced in lymphocyte cultures from healthy individuals by addition of filtered supernatant or irradiated cells of the original culture. The antisera to BLV used in this study may prove useful for the detection of AIDS-associated viruses in short-term cultures of lymphocytes from AIDS patients or their contacts.