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T-cell tolerance: exposure to virus in utero does not cause a permanent deletion of specific T cells.

By B D Jamieson and R Ahmed


This study documents the curing of a congenitally acquired chronic viral infection and the acquisition of T-cell competence by a previously tolerant host. Infection of mice with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is a classic model of viral persistence and antigen-specific T-cell unresponsiveness. Mice infected at birth or in utero become lifelong carriers with no detectable virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses. This chronic infection can be eliminated by adoptive transfer of Lyt-2+ T cells from LCMV-immune mice. To determine whether these cured carriers were capable of generating their own LCMV-specific CTL response, mice congenic at the Thy-1 locus (Thy-1.1 and Thy-1.2) were used in the adoptive transfer experiments. Host-derived T-cell responses were checked after treating the cured carriers with a monoclonal antibody to deplete the immune donor T cells. Such cured carrier mice were able to generate a host-derived virus-specific CTL response and resisted a second LCMV challenge in the absence of any donor T cells. In addition, bone marrow cells from these cured carriers could functionally reconstitute irradiated mice. Thus this report demonstrates the acquisition of LCMV-specific T-cell competence by previously unresponsive carrier mice infected in utero. These results show that exposure to a virus even during embryonic life does not cause a permanent deletion of specific T cells. These findings are of significance to the understanding of tolerance mechanisms and have implications for the treatment of chronic viral infections

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1988
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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