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Eur J Immunol. 2010 Mar;40(3):654-63. doi: 10.1002/eji.200940102.

How chronic viral infections impact on antigen-specific T-cell responses.

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Institute of Microbiology, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Persistent viral infections are, by definition, associated with ineffective antiviral immunity, in particular those infections caused by viruses that are highly productive and replicative (including HIV, HBV and HCV). The reasons for ineffective antiviral immunity in these types of infections are complex and manifold, and only recently a more comprehensive picture of the parameters responsible for attenuation of immune function is emerging. One reason for poor viral control in these types of infections is the functional deterioration of antiviral T-cell responses and understanding the underlying mechanisms is of key importance. This review summarizes our current knowledge of cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic parameters that contribute to T-cell exhaustion during chronic viral infections and discusses related implications for host survival, immunopathology, and control of infection.

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