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J Virol. 1991 Jul;65(7):3429-34.

Role of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in murine resistance to street rabies virus.

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  • 1Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Hamilton, Montana 59840.


Mice of the SJL/J and BALB/cByJ inbred strains are naturally resistant to street rabies virus (SRV) injected via the intraperitoneal route. To determine the cellular mechanism of resistance, monoclonal antibodies specific for CD4+ or CD8+ subsets of T cells were used to deplete the respective cell population in SRV-infected animals. Elimination of CD4+ T-helper cells abrogated the production of immunoglobulin G (IgG) neutralizing antibodies in response to rabies virus infection and reversed the resistant status of SJL/J and BALB/cByJ mice. In contrast, in vivo depletion of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells had no measurable effect on host resistance to SRV. These results indicate that serum neutralizing antibodies of the IgG class are a primary immunological mechanism of defense against rabies virus infection in this murine model of disease. CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which have been shown to transfer protection in other rabies virus systems, appear to have no role in protecting mice against intraperitoneally injected SRV.

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