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Immunol Res. 2002;25(3):201-17.

A mouse model for infectious mononucleosis.

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Trudeau Institute, Saranac Lake, NY 12983, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a ubiquitous human gamma-herpesvirus that establishes life-long latency and is associated with lymphoproliferative disorders and the development of several malignancies. EBV infection is frequently, but not always, associated with the development of a syndrome termed infectious mononucleosis. The recent isolation and characterization of a murine gamma-herpesvirus, MHV-68 (gammaHV-68) has provided the first small animal model for studying immunity and pathogenesis of a gamma-herpesvirus in its natural host. MHV-68 has important biological and genetic similarities with the human gamma-herpesviruses. Following intranasal infection of mice with MHV-68, an acute respiratory infection in the lung develops and is cleared, followed by the establishment of latency. Similar to EBV, MHV-68 latency is largely established in B cells, although other cell types can be latently infected. The establishment of latency correlates with a prominent splenomegaly, polyclonal B cell activation with associated autoantibody production, and CD8+ T cell-dominated peripheral blood lymphocytosis, in many aspects mirroring EBV-induced infectious mononucleosis. There are key differences in the MHV-68- and EBV-induced CD8+ T cell responses however. Whereas the expanded CD8+ T cells associated with EBV-induced mononucleosis are largely the outgrowth of T cells responding to lytic viral epitopes elicited during the acute phase of the response, the CD8+ T cell lymphocytosis associated with MHV-68-induced infectious mononucleosis is dominated by an oligoclonal population of T cells expressing Vbeta4+ T cell receptors that are not reactive to acute viral epitopes. The focus of this article will be to highlight the similarities and differences in the infectious mononucleosis syndrome associated with human and murine gamma-herpesviruses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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