The importance of T cells in Chlamydia pneumoniae infection in mice was assessed by comparing wild-type BALB/c mice with nude mice and mice depleted in vivo of either CD4+ or CD8+ T cells. Whereas wild-type mice cleared the primary infection in 3 weeks, nude mice were only able to restrict the infection and could not clear it during the observation period of 56 days. Nude mice exhibited a greater number of macrophages in their lungs and the pulmonary cells secreted a higher level of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) than wild-type mice. Depletion of CD4+ cells did not change the overall infection kinetics of the primary infection. However, depletion of CD8+ cells resulted in a slightly impaired clearance of the bacteria in the late stages of primary infection. To assess the role of the two T-cell subsets in the acquired immunity that develops during primary infection in wild-type BALB/c mice, in vivo depletions were performed during reinfection. Prior to reinfection, immunocompetent wild-type mice were infected and natural immunity was allowed to form. During reinfection, depletion of CD4+ cells did not have any effect on infection kinetics, whereas depletion of CD8+ cells abolished the protection, reverting the infection kinetics and bacterial load to the same levels found in wild-type mice during primary infection. These results show that T cells are necessary for clearing C. pneumoniae infection in mice. Furthermore, whereas neither of the two main T-cell subsets, separately, were essential for clearance of primary infection, the induced protective immunity was strongly CD8 dependent
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