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J Virol. Apr 1992; 66(4): 1835–1840.
PMCID: PMC288969

Protective immune response against foot-and-mouth disease.


The causative agents of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) are small icosahedral viruses of the Aphthovirus group within the Picornaviridae family. There is no evidence that these viruses infect cells of the immune system or otherwise interfere detrimentally with their function; additionally, it has not been possible to relate cytotoxicity reactions against virus-infected cells to the efficacy of the immune response against FMD virus infection. In contrast, there is a close association between FMD virus antibody and the protective immune response (10, 14, 15, 20, 24, 25, 29-32). Induction of this antibody is dependent on the structure of the viral antigenic sites (7-9, 11, 18) and on the concomitant presence of Th-lymphocyte epitopes (4, 5, 7, 8), although a Th-lymphocyte-independent response has been reported (2). Recent work by Piatti et al. (26) showed that the immune response induced by FMD virus was only Th-lymphocyte dependent when low doses of antigen were used. This latter work was performed in mice, and it is not certain that a similar situation would be found in cattle. As for the major effector immune defense, this relies on the interaction between antibody-virus complexes and the phagocytic cells of the reticuloendothelial system (17, 19).

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Selected References

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