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Immunol Rev. 2006 Jun;211:236-54.

Functional signatures of protective antiviral T-cell immunity in human virus infections.

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Laboratory of AIDS Immunopathogenesis, Division of Immunology and Allergy, Department of Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.


The most common human viruses have different abilities to establish persistent chronic infection. Virus-specific T-cell responses are critical in the control of virus replication and in the prevention of disease in chronic infection. A large number of phenotypic markers and a series of functions have been used to characterize virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses, and these studies have shown great phenotypic and functional heterogeneity of the T-cell responses against different viruses. The heterogeneity of the T-cell response has been proposed to be specific to each virus. However, over the past 2 years, several studies have provided evidence that the phenotypic and functional heterogeneity of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses is predominantly regulated by the levels of antigen load. The levels of antigen load modulate the phenotypic and functional patterns of the T-cell response within the same virus infection. Furthermore, the functional characterization of virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses has identified signatures of protective antiviral immunity. Polyfunctional, i.e. interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) secretion and proliferation, and not monofunctional, i.e. IFN-gamma secretion, CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses represent correlates of protective antiviral immunity in chronic virus infections.

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