Open Access Open Badges Research article

No evidence for transmission of SIVwrc from western red colobus monkeys (piliocolobus badius badius) to wild west african chimpanzees (pan troglodytes verus) despite high exposure through hunting

Siv Aina J Leendertz123, Sabrina Locatelli4, Christophe Boesch2, Claudia Kücherer1, Pierre Formenty5, Florian Liegeois4, Ahidjo Ayouba4, Martine Peeters4 and Fabian H Leendertz12*

Author Affiliations

1 Robert Koch-Institut, Nordufer 20, 13353 Berlin, Germany

2 Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany

3 Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, P.O. Box 8146 dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway

4 Institut de Recherche pourle Developpement (IRD) and University of Montpellier 1, Montpellier, France

5 World Health Organization, Global Alert and Response, Geneva, Switzerland

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BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:24  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-24

Published: 1 February 2011



Simian Immunodeficiency Viruses (SIVs) are the precursors of Human Immunodeficiency Viruses (HIVs) which have lead to the worldwide HIV/AIDS pandemic. By studying SIVs in wild primates we can better understand the circulation of these viruses in their natural hosts and habitat, and perhaps identify factors that influence susceptibility and transmission within and between various host species. We investigated the SIV status of wild West African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) which frequently hunt and consume the western red colobus monkey (Piliocolobus badius badius), a species known to be infected to a high percentage with its specific SIV strain (SIVwrc).


Blood and plasma samples from 32 wild chimpanzees were tested with INNO-LIA HIV I/II Score kit to detect cross-reactive antibodies to HIV antigens. Twenty-three of the samples were also tested for antibodies to 43 specific SIV and HIV lineages, including SIVwrc. Tissue samples from all but two chimpanzees were tested for SIV by PCRs using generic SIV primers that detect all known primate lentiviruses as well as primers designed to specifically detect SIVwrc. Seventeen of the chimpanzees showed varying degrees of cross-reactivity to the HIV specific antigens in the INNO-LIA test; however no sample had antibodies to SIV or HIV strain - and lineage specific antigens in the Luminex test. No SIV DNA was found in any of the samples.


We could not detect any conclusive trace of SIV infection from the red colobus monkeys in the chimpanzees, despite high exposure to this virus through frequent hunting. The results of our study raise interesting questions regarding the host-parasite relationship of SIVwrc and wild chimpanzees in their natural habitat.