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J Virol. 2008 Dec;82(24):12432-40. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01267-08. Epub 2008 Oct 8.

Memory CD4+ T-cell-mediated protection from lethal coronavirus encephalomyelitis.

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Department of Neurosciences, NC30, Lerner Research Institute, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


The antiviral role of CD4(+) T cells in virus-induced pathologies of the central nervous system (CNS) has not been explored extensively. Control of neurotropic mouse hepatitis virus (JHMV) requires the collaboration of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, with CD8(+) T cells providing direct perforin and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma)-mediated antiviral activity. To distinguish bystander from direct antiviral contributions of CD4(+) T cells in virus clearance and pathology, memory CD4(+) T cells purified from wild type (wt), perforin-deficient (PKO), and IFN-gamma-deficient (GKO) immune donors were transferred to immunodeficient SCID mice prior to CNS challenge. All three donor CD4(+) T-cell populations controlled CNS virus replication at 8 days postinfection, indicating IFN-gamma- and perforin-independent antiviral function. Recipients of GKO CD4(+) T cells succumbed more rapidly to fatal disease than untreated control infected mice. In contrast, wt and PKO donor CD4(+) T cells cleared infectious virus to undetectable levels and protected from fatal disease. Recipients of all CD4(+) T-cell populations exhibited demyelination. However, it was more severe in wt CD4(+) T-cell recipients. These data support a role of CD4(+) T cells in virus clearance and demyelination. Despite substantial IFN-gamma-independent antiviral activity, IFN-gamma was crucial in providing protection from death. IFN-gamma reduced neutrophil accumulation and directed macrophages to white matter but did not ameliorate myelin loss.

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