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J Virol. 2009 Apr;83(8):3626-36. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02613-08. Epub 2009 Jan 28.

Foot-and-mouth disease virus can induce a specific and rapid CD4+ T-cell-independent neutralizing and isotype class-switched antibody response in naïve cattle.

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Pirbright Laboratory, Institute for Animal Health, Ash Road, Woking, Surrey GU24 0NF, United Kingdom.


The role of T-lymphocyte subsets in recovery from foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) infection in calves was investigated by administering subset-specific monoclonal antibodies. The depletion of circulating CD4(+) or WC1(+) gammadelta T cells was achieved for a period extending from before challenge to after resolution of viremia and peak clinical signs, whereas CD8(+) cell depletion was only partial. The depletion of CD4(+) cells was also confirmed by analysis of lymph node biopsy specimens 5 days postchallenge. Depletion with anti-WC1 and anti-CD8 antibodies had no effect on the kinetics of infection, clinical signs, and immune responses following FMDV infection. Three of the four CD4(+) T-cell-depleted calves failed to generate an antibody response to the nonstructural polyprotein 3ABC but generated a neutralizing antibody response similar to that in the controls, including rapid isotype switching to immunoglobulin G antibody. We conclude that antibody responses to sites on the surface of the virus capsid are T cell independent, whereas those directed against the nonstructural proteins are T cell dependent. CD4 depletion was found to substantially inhibit antibody responses to the G-H peptide loop VP1(135-156) on the viral capsid, indicating that responses to this particular site, which has a more mobile structure than other neutralizing sites on the virus capsid, are T cell dependent. The depletion of CD4(+) T cells had no adverse effect on the magnitude or duration of clinical signs or clearance of virus from the circulation. Overall, we conclude that CD4(+) T-cell-independent antibody responses play a major role in the resolution of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle.

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