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J Immunol. 2001 Sep 1;167(5):2902-10.

Bystander activation involving T lymphocytes in herpetic stromal keratitis.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.


Herpes simplex virus infection of mouse corneas can lead to the development of an immunopathological lesion, termed herpetic stromal keratitis (HSK). Such lesions also occur in TCR-transgenic mice backcrossed to SCID (TgSCID) that are unable to mount detectable HSV-specific immune responses. The present study demonstrates that lesion expression in such mice depends on continuous viral replication, whereas in immunocompetent mice, lesions occurred even if virus replication was terminated at 4 days after infection. The continuous replication in TgSCID mice was considered necessary to produce an activating stimulus to CD4(+) T cells that invade the cornea. Lesions in TgSCID were resistant to control by cyclosporin A, but were inhibited by treatment with rapamycin. This result was interpreted to indicate that T cell activation involved a non-TCR-mediated cytokine-driven bystander mechanism. Bystander activation was also shown to play a role in HSK lesions in immunocompetent mice. Accordingly, in immunocompetent DO11.10 mice, lesions were dominated by KJ1.26(+) OVA-specific CD4(+) T cells that were unreactive with HSV. In addition, KJ1.26(+) HSV nonimmune cells parked in ocularly infected BALB/c mice were demonstrable in HSK lesions. These results provide insight for the choice of new strategies to manage HSK, an important cause of human blindness.

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