Natural killer (NK) and cytotoxic T (Tc) cells are prime effector populations in the antiviral response of the host. Tc cells are essential for recovery from many viral diseases but may also be responsible for immunopathology. The role of NK cells in recovery from viral infections is less well established. We have studied acute virulent Semliki Forest virus (vSFV) infection of the central nervous system in C57BL/6J mice, which was mainly controlled by NK cells without marked Tc cell involvement. We show that mice with defects in the Fas and/or granule exocytosis pathways of cytotoxicity are more resistant to lethal vSFV infection than wild-type mice. On the other hand, mice defective in the IFN-γ response are more sensitive than wild-type mice, whereas mice lacking the Tc cell compartment (β-2 microglobulin-deficient mice) exhibit susceptibility similar to wild-type mice. The additional finding that depletion of NK cells significantly delayed the mean time to death but did not prevent mortality in SFV-infected B6 mice suggests that cytolytic activity of NK cells is detrimental, while IFN-γ production is beneficial for recovery from SFV infection. This is the first study illustrating an NK cell-mediated immunopathological outcome to an acute viral infection
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.