Memory T cells in Rhesus Macaques
Monica Vaccari and Genoveffa Franchini
The Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is one of the best studied species of Old World monkeys. DNA sequencing of the entire Rhesus macaque genome, completed in 2007, has demonstrated that humans and macaques share about 93% of their nucleotide sequence. Rhesus macaques have been widely used for medical research including drug testing, neurology, behavioral and cognitive science, reproduction, xenotransplantation and genetics. Because of the Rhesus macaque’s sensitivity to bacteria, parasites and viruses that cause similar disease in humans, these animals represent an excellent model to study infectious diseases. The recent pandemic of HIV and the discovery of SIV, a lentivirus genetically related to HIV Type 1 that causes AIDS in Rhesus macaques, have prompted the development of reagents that can be used to study innate and adaptive immune responses in macaques at the single cell level. This review will focus on the distribution of memory cells in the different immunologic compartments of Rhesus macaques. In addition, the strategies available to manipulate memory cells in Rhesus macaques to understand their trafficking and function will be discussed. Emphasis is placed on studies of memory cells in macaques infected with SIV because many studies are available. Lastly, we highlight the usefulness of the Rhesus macaque model in studies related to the aging of the immune system.