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Can J Vet Res. 1996 Jul;60(3):186-92.

Role of CD4+, CD8+ and double negative T-cells in the protection of SCID/beige mice against respiratory challenge with Rhodococcus equi.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph.


To evaluate the contributions of T-lymphocyte subsets in pulmonary immunity against Rhodococcus equi, C.B-17 SCID/beige mice were adoptively transferred with splenic lymphocytes from congenic BALB/c mice previously infected with R. equi. Spleen cells were enriched for either CD4+ or CD8+ populations before inoculation, Flow cytometry showed that each enriched population contained less than 0.5% cross contamination. Groups of adoptively transferred SCID/beige mice were sacrificed 6 and 13 d after intranasal infection with R. equi. Bacterial clearance was measured in the lungs, liver and spleen. Lesion development was assessed by gross and histopathological score and the fate of transferred cells assessed by flow cytometry and by immunohistochemistry. SCID/beige mice receiving either CD4+ or CD8+ T-cells were able to clear the infection better than control mice. On d 6 post-infection, bacterial numbers were significantly lower in the lungs of CD4+ transferred mice as compared to CD8+ mice. By d 13, both groups had cleared R. equi from all organs. CD4+ cells were however identified in the lung and spleen of CD8+ recipients at d 13 making conclusions about the role of CD8+ cells in R. equi clearance impossible. By contrast, no significant increases in CD8+ lymphocytes were observed in the organs of CD4+ recipients. All mice developed suppurative bronchopneumonia but lesions were most severe in the CD4+ group. Immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry confirmed that CD4+ and CD8+ cells had migrated to the lungs of adoptively transferred mice. Serum antibody against R, equi was not detected by ELISA in the recipients. SCID/beige mice receiving CD4-CD8- cells were unable to clear R. equi. The study supports the suggestion that CD4+ cells have a central role in R. equi clearance in mice.

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