T lymphocyte function as the principal target of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus-induced immunosuppression.


Plaque-forming cell responses against sheep erythrocytes, Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide, pneumococcal polysaccharide, and polyvinylpyrrolidone were examined in mice infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. A 92 to 96 percent reduction of the thymus-dependent anti-sheep erythrocyte responses was observed 2 to 4 weeks after infection. However, the thymus-independent responses against the three other antigens were close to normal at all stages of the infetion. Studies on allograft immunity of infected C3H mice against DBA/2 mastocytoma cells revealed a severe suppression of the T cell-mediated cytotoxic response which was temporally related to the impaired humoral responsiveness against sheep erythrocytes. The capacity of spleen cells from infected mice to restore immune responsiveness of lethally irradiated recipients against sheep erythrocytes was significantly reduced. The adoptive responses, however, were clearly improved when normal thymus cells were added to the inferior spleen cells. Moreover, it appeared that the spleen cells from immunosuppressed donor mice could not confer suppression to normal lymphoid cells. The presented findings are consistent with the assumption that a numeric deficiency of T cells, or cells belonging to some T cell subpopulation, is the primary cause of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus-induced immunosuppression.

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