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Eur J Immunol. 2006 Oct;36(10):2658-70.

Kinetics of CD8+ effector T cell responses and induced CD4+ regulatory T cell responses during Friend retrovirus infection.

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  • 1Institut fuer Virologie des Universitaetsklinikums Essen, Essen, Germany.


Cytolytic CD8+ T cells are critical for the control of acute Friend virus (FV) infection yet they fail to completely eliminate the virus during chronic infection because they are functionally impaired by regulatory T cells (Treg). We performed a kinetic analysis of T cell responses during FV infection to determine when dysfunction of CD8+ T cells and suppressive activity of CD4+ regulatory T cells develops. At 1 week post infection, virus-specific CD8+ T cells with effector phenotype and cytolytic potential expanded. Peak expansion was found at 12 days post infection, correlating with peak viral loads. After 2 weeks when viral loads dropped, numbers of activated CD8+ T cells started to decline. However, a population of virus-specific CD8+ T cells with effector phenotype was still detectable subsequently, but these cells had lost their ability to produce granzymes and to degranulate cytotoxic molecules. Contemporaneous with the development of CD8+ T cell dysfunction, different CD4+ T cell populations expressing cell surface markers for Treg and the Treg-associated transcription factor Foxp3 expanded. Transfer as well as depletion experiments indicated that regulatory CD4+ cells developed during the second week of FV infection and subsequently suppressed CD8+ T cell functions, which was associated with impaired virus clearance.

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