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J Immunol. 1992 Jul 1;149(1):175-80.

Simultaneous depletion of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes is required to reactivate chronic infection with Toxoplasma gondii.

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Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


C57BL/6 mice chronically infected with an avirulent strain (ME-49) of Toxoplasma gondii were used to study the mechanisms by which T lymphocytes and IFN-gamma prevent reactivation of latent infection. Infected animals were treated with mAb, either anti-CD8, anti-CD4, anti-CD4 plus anti-CD8, anti-IFN-gamma, or anti-CD4 plus anti-IFN-gamma and the mice followed for survival, histopathology, cyst numbers, and spleen cell cytokine responses. In agreement with previously published findings, treatment with anti-IFN-gamma antibodies fully reactivated the asymptomatic infection, inducing massive necrotic areas in the brain with the appearance of free tachyzoites and death of all animals within 2 wk. Mice treated with the combination of anti-CD4 plus anti-CD8 antibodies showed augmented pathology and mortality nearly identical to the anti-IFN-gamma- treated animals. In contrast, treatment with anti-CD4 or anti-CD8 mAb alone failed to result in significantly enhanced brain pathology or mortality. In additional experiments, full reactivation of infection was observed in mice treated with anti-CD4 plus anti-IFN-gamma indicating that CD4+ lymphocytes are not required for the pathology resulting from IFN-gamma neutralization. Cytokine measurements on parasite Ag-stimulated spleen cells from mAb-treated mice indicated that both CD4+ and CD8+ cells produce IFN-gamma whereas only CD4+ cells contribute to parasite Ag-induced IL-2 synthesis. Together, these results suggest that CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes act additively or synergistically to prevent reactivation of chronic T. gondii infection probably through the production of IFN-gamma.

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