Objective—To assess plasma viral RNA concentration in cats naturally infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
Animals—28 FIV-infected cats.
Procedure—Cats were categorized into 1 of the 3 following stages on the basis of clinical signs: asymptomatic (nonclinical) carrier (AC; n = 11), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related complex (ARC; 9), or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS; 8). Concentration of viral RNA in plasma (copies per ml) was determined by use of a quantitative competitive polymerase chain reaction (QC-PCR) assay. Total lymphocyte count, CD4+ cell and CD8+ cell counts, and the CD4+ cell count-to-CD8+ cell count ratio were determined by use of flow cytometry.
Results—Plasma viral RNA concentration was significantly higher in cats in the AIDS stage, compared with cats in AC and ARC stages. Most (5/7) cats in the AIDS stage had low total lymphocyte, CD4+ cell, and CD8+ cell counts.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Concentration of plasma viral RNA is a good indicator of disease progression in FIV-infected cats, particularly as cats progress from the ARC to the AIDS stage. Determination of CD4+ and CD8+ cell counts can be used as supportive indicators of disease progression. (Am J Vet Res 2000;61:1609–1613)