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Arch Virol. 1989;108(1-2):49-58.

Evidence that NK cells and interferon are required for genetic resistance to lethal infection with ectromelia virus.

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Section of Comparative Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.


C 57 BL/6 mice developed resistance to lethal intravenous challenge with virulent (Moscow strain) ectromelia virus between 2 and 3 weeks of age. The fraction of C57 BL/6 mice in which virus was detected in spleen was significantly lower than for DBA/2 mice by day 3. Thereafter, C 57 BL/6 mice had significantly reduced virus titers in spleen compared with those of DBA/2 mice. Resistance was abrogated by treatment with anti-asialo GM1 gammaglobulin, which blocks NK cell activity, or with anti-interferon (IFN) alpha, beta. C 57 BL/6 mice carrying the bg/bg mutation, associated with a deficiency of NK cells, were highly susceptible to lethal infection as were athymic mice derived from a resistant genetic background. Virus titers in spleens of C 57 BL/6 mice treated with anti-asialo GM1 or anti-IFN alpha, beta were significantly higher 4 days after virus challenge than were titers in C 57 BL/6 mice treated with normal rabbit serum. The results strongly suggest that genetic resistance to lethal ectromelia virus infection requires non-specific host defenses such as NK cells and IFN alpha, beta that are activated during the first 3 to 4 days of infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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