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J Immunol. 1996 Dec 1;157(11):5042-8.

Loss of either CD4+ or CD8+ T cells does not affect the magnitude of protective immunity to an intracellular pathogen, Francisella tularensis strain LVS.

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  • 1Laboratory of Enteric and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Division of Bacterial Products, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.


Normal mice readily survive a sublethal intradermal (i.d.) infection with Francisella tularensis live vaccine strain (LVS), a model intracellular bacterium, and are strongly protected against subsequent lethal challenge. However, athymic nu/nu mice, which lack mature alphabeta TCR+ T lymphocytes, succumb to i.d. infection within 30 days. Here we characterize the alphabeta T cell subpopulations necessary for both resolution of i.d. infection and generation of optimal protective immunity to LVS. BALB/cByJ mice treated with anti-CD4 or anti-CD8 Abs before i.d. infection survived and cleared bacteria, and anti-CD4- or anti-CD8-treated immune mice survived a very strong i.p. challenge of 10,000 LD50s. Among mutant mice with targeted gene disruptions (knockouts), CD4-, beta2-microglobulin-deficient (which are also CD8-), and gammadelta TCR- mice all resolved a large sublethal i.d. infection. All CD4- and beta2-microglobulin-deficient mice readily survived subsequent lethal i.p. challenge of 10,000 LD50s, even in the absence of specific IgG Abs, as did most (86%) gammadelta TCR- mice. In contrast, alphabeta TCR- mice or alphabeta + gammadelta TCR- mice died about 35 days after i.d. infection. Depletion of gammadelta+ T cells from alphabeta TCR- mice had no effect on mean time to death from i.d. LVS infection. Therefore alphabeta TCR+ cells are required for protection, but either CD4+ or CD8+ T cells are individually sufficient to resolve a large sublethal i.d. LVS infection and to protect against a maximal secondary lethal challenge. These results emphasize the remarkable plasticity of the alphabeta T cell response in protective immunity to intracellular bacteria.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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