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Viral Immunol. 1987;1(2):145-52.

T-cell imbalances and NK activity in varicella-zoster virus infections.

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  • 1Clinica Malattie Infettive, Universita Cattolica S. Cuore, Roma, Italy.


Samples of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBMC) were serially obtained from 30 patients with herpes zoster (HZ) and 10 patients with chickenpox (CP). Cells were assayed for NK-cell function and for the expression of surface membrane antigens which identify T-cell and NK-cell subsets. During the acute phase of disease (less than 7 days from onset), PBMC from patients with HZ had low proportions of T-helper (CD 4+) cells and a large number of T-suppressor (CD 8+) cells, resulting in a low T-helper/T-suppressor ratio. There was an increased percentage of nonspecific suppressor cells (GD 8+-CD 11+ cells) and increased expression of HLA-DR determinants on both CD 8+ and CD 4+ cells. The NK activity was depressed with no concomitant decrease in NK cells (CD 16+ or Leu 7+ cells). In the early convalescing phase of disease (8-14 days), there was a significant increase in CD 16+ cells and increased expression of HLA-DR on these cells, correlating with increased NK activity. In the late recovery phase (greater than 14 days), NK activity and levels of T-cell subpopulations were normal with the exception of increased CD 4+ cells and, consequently, of the helper/suppressor ratios. In the acute phase of CP (less than 7 days), the T-cell imbalances were similar to those encountered with HZ patients.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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