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Measles virus-induced immunosuppression.

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Institute for Virology and Immunobiology, University of Würzburg, Versbacher Str. 7, 97078 Würzburg, Germany.


Immunosuppression is the major cause of infant death associated with acute measles and therefore of substantial clinical importance. Major hallmarks of this generalized modulation of immune functions are (1) lymphopenia, (2) a prolonged cytokine imbalance consistent with suppression of cellular immunity to secondary infections, and (3) silencing of peripheral blood lymphocytes, which cannot expand in response to ex vivo stimulation. Lymphopenia results from depletion, which can occur basically at any stage of lymphocyte development, and evidently, expression of the major MV receptor CD150 plays an important role in targeting these cells. Virus transfer to T cells is thought to be mediated by dendritic cells (DCs), which are considered central to the induction of T cell silencing and functional skewing. As a consequence of MV interaction, viability and functional differentiation of DCs and thereby their expression pattern of co-stimulatory molecules and soluble mediators are modulated. Moreover, MV proteins expressed by these cells actively silence T cells by interfering with signaling pathways essential for T cell activation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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