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Virology. 1997 Nov 24;238(2):380-90.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome: CD8+ and CD4+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes to epitopes on Sin Nombre virus nucleocapsid protein isolated during acute illness.

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Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research, University of Massachusetts, Worcester 01655, USA.


In 1993 a number of cases of unexplained adult respiratory syndrome occurred in the southwestern United States. The illness was characterized by a prodrome of fever, myalgia, and other symptoms followed by the rapid onset of a capillary leak syndrome with hemoconcentration, thrombocytopenia, and pulmonary edema. Viral RNA sequences in the lungs identified a new member of the hantavirus genus, Sin Nombre virus (SNV), unique to North America. Pulmonary endothelial cells were heavily infected but were not necrotic. We speculated that this capillary leak syndrome was initiated by immune responses to the SNV-infected pulmonary endothelial cells. We isolated a CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clone directly from the blood of a patient with the acute hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) which recognizes a SNV specific epitope on the virus nucleocapsid protein (aa 234-242) that is restricted by HLA C7 and produces IFN gamma but not IL-4. We identified a second CD8+ CTL epitope located within another site aa 131-139 on the nucleocapsid protein, which is HLA B35 restricted, and a CD4+ CTL epitope located on a third site on nucleocapsid protein aa 372-380 using lymphocytes obtained during HPS from another patient that were stimulated in vitro. Hantavirus specific CD8+ and CD4+ CTL may contribute to the immunopathology and capillary leak syndrome observed in the HPS.

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