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N Engl J Med. 1979 Nov 22;301(21):1133-7.

Activation of suppressor T cells during Epstein-Barr-virus-induced infectious mononucleosis.


Infectious mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), an unusual human pathogen because it preferentially infects B lymphocytes and consequently activates them to produce immunoglobulins. When cultures of lymphocytes from patients with infectious mononucleosis were stimulated with polyclonal activators, unseparated cells failed to produce immunoglobulins, whereas purified B cells responded normally. Cocultures demonstrated profound suppressor T-cell activity in blood from patients with infectious mononucleosis. Early in this disease, circulating immunoglobulin-secreting cells were elevated, but during the second week their number was strikingly depressed. These data indicate that during infectious mononucleosis, EBV causes polyclonal activation of B cells, reflected by hypergammaglobulinemia and increased circulating immunoglobulin-secreting cells. Next, suppressor T cells become activated and inhibit further B-cell activation. Thus, activation of suppressor T cells in infectious mononucleosis provides a unique additional mechanism of host defense because these T cells inhibit the activation and proliferation of an important target of the causative virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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