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J Virol. 2008 Mar;82(5):2196-207. Epub 2007 Dec 19.

Differential role of gamma interferon in inhibiting pulmonary eosinophilia and exacerbating systemic disease in fusion protein-immunized mice undergoing challenge infection with respiratory syncytial virus.

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  • 1Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Immunology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Secondary exposure to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can lead to immunopathology and enhanced disease in vaccinated individuals. Vaccination with individual RSV proteins influences the type of secondary RSV-specific immune response that develops upon challenge RSV infection, as well as the extent of immunopathology. RSV-specific memory CD4 T cells can directly contribute to immunopathology through their cytokine production. Immunization of BALB/c mice with a recombinant vaccinia virus (vv) expressing the attachment (G) protein of RSV results in pulmonary eosinophilia upon RSV challenge, whereas immunization of mice with a vv expressing the fusion (F) protein does not. We analyzed the CD4 T-cell response to an I-E(d)-restricted CD4 T-cell epitope within the F protein of RSV corresponding to amino acids 51 to 66 in an effort to better understand the similarities and differences in the immune response elicited by the G versus the F protein. Vaccination with the G protein induces a mixture of RSV G-specific Th1 and Th2 cells with a restricted T-cell receptor repertoire. In contrast, we demonstrate here that immunization with the F protein elicits a broad repertoire of RSV F-specific CD4 T cells that predominantly exhibit a Th1 phenotype. However, in the absence of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma), RSV F(51-66)-specific CD4 T cells secreted interleukin-5, and mice developed pulmonary eosinophilia after RSV challenge. IFN-gamma-deficient mice exhibited decreased weight loss compared to wild-type controls, suggesting that IFN-gamma exacerbates systemic disease. These data demonstrate that IFN-gamma can have both beneficial and detrimental effects during a secondary RSV infection.

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