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J Immunol. 2004 Jan 1;172(1):433-41.

Critical role of T cell-dependent serum antibody, but not the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, for surviving acute mucosal infection with Citrobacter rodentium, an attaching and effacing pathogen.

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Lymphocyte Biology Section, Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Citrobacter rodentium uses virulence factors similar to the enteropathogenic Escherichia coli to produce attaching and effacing lesions in the distal colon of mice. We used this infection model to determine components of adaptive immunity needed to survive infection. During acute infection, wild-type mice develop breaks across infected epithelial surfaces but resolve infection. Surprisingly, mice markedly deficient in mucosal lymphocyte populations from beta(7) integrin deficiency resolve infection, as do CD8alpha-/- or TCR-delta-/- mice. In contrast, CD4-/- or TCR-beta-/- mice develop polymicrobial sepsis and end-organ damage, and succumb during acute infection, despite epithelial damage similar to wild-type mice. B cell-deficient (MuMT-/-) or B and T cell-deficient (recombinase-activating gene 2-/-) mice develop severe pathology in colon and internal organs, and deteriorate rapidly during acute infection. Surviving mice develop robust Citrobacter-specific serum IgM responses during acute infection, whereas mice that succumb do not. However, CD4-/- mice receiving serum Igs from infected wild-type mice survive and clear the infection. Our data show that survival of apparently self-limited and luminal mucosal infections requires a systemic T cell-dependent Ab response against bacteria that enter through damaged mucosa. These findings have implications for understanding host defense against mucosal infections, including the pathogenesis of these diseases in immunocompromised populations.

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