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Microb Pathog. 1992 Dec;13(6):447-63.

The cellular immunology of bovine paratuberculosis: the predominant response is mediated by cytotoxic gamma/delta T lymphocytes which prevent CD4+ activity.

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Department of Medicine, Brown University, Providence, RI.


Peripheral blood T-cell subsets were obtained from an experimentally sensitized bovine and from nine bovines naturally infected with Mycobacterium paratuberculosis and tested for their ability to respond to antigen. It was determined that following antigen challenge, proliferative responses followed a biphasic pattern: an initial CD4+ proliferative response, a period of anergy, and a final response governed by gamma/delta T lymphocytes. The anergic phase was characterized by a dramatic drop in peripheral blood CD4+ cells; the nature of the non-responsiveness could not be determined. The anergic phase was followed by increased proliferative responses of non-MHC restricted gamma/delta T lymphocytes. Although CD4+ cells had the ability to proliferate in response to M. paratuberculosis antigens in the absence of gamma/delta T cells, antigen-primed CD4+ lymphocytes failed to incorporate [3H]-thymidine in the presence of gamma/delta T cells and M. paratuberculosis antigen. It was concluded that M. paratuberculosis-specific gamma/delta T lymphocytes have immunoregulatory function and exhibit cytotoxic activity against antigen-primed CD4+ helper cells. The data suggest that the inability of effector cell populations to prevent intracellular proliferation of M. paratuberculosis may be a result of cytotoxic killing of the T helper lymphocyte population required for macrophage activation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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