Efficacious control of cytomegalovirus infection after long-term depletion of CD8+ T lymphocytes.


Although the relative contribution of different immune effector functions to clearing tissues of cytomegalovirus is controversial, the contribution of CD8+ T lymphocytes has generally been accepted as essential. In this report, we show that under certain conditions the CD8+ T-lymphocyte subset can be dispensable for clearance of cytomegalovirus. Mice depleted of the CD8+ T-lymphocyte subset eliminated infectious virus with a clearance kinetics similar to that of normal mice. Adoptive transfer studies revealed that the limitation of virus spread required the cooperation between the CD4+ subset and other cells. Comparison between protective functions generated in fully immunocompetent and in CD8- mice demonstrated that elimination of the CD8+ subset before infection altered the quality of the antiviral immune response. The compensatory protective activity gained by CD4+ cells in CD8- mice was absent in normal mice recovering from virus infection.

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