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J Virol. 2001 Apr;75(8):3740-52.

CD4+ T-cell effectors inhibit Epstein-Barr virus-induced B-cell proliferation.

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Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


In immunodeficient hosts, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) often induces extensive B-cell lymphoproliferative disease and lymphoma. Without effective in vitro immune surveillance, B cells infected by the virus readily form immortalized cell lines. In the regression assay, memory T cells inhibit the formation of foci of EBV-transformed B cells that follows recent in vitro infection by EBV. No one has yet addressed which T cell regulates the early proliferative phase of B cells newly infected by EBV. Using new quantitative methods, we analyzed T-cell surveillance of EBV-mediated B-cell proliferation. We found that CD4+ T cells play a significant role in limiting proliferation of newly infected, activated CD23+ B cells. In the absence of T cells, EBV-infected CD23+ B cells divided rapidly during the first 3 weeks after infection. Removal of CD4+ but not CD8+ T cells also abrogated immune control. Purified CD4+ T cells eliminated outgrowth when added to EBV-infected B cells. Thus, unlike the killing of EBV-infected lymphoblastoid cell lines, in which CD8+ cytolytic T cells play an essential role, prevention of early-phase EBV-induced B-cell proliferation requires CD4+ effector T cells.

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