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J Immunol. 2011 Jun 1;186(11):6218-26. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1003812. Epub 2011 Apr 29.

Suppressive CD8+ T cells arise in the absence of CD4 help and compromise control of persistent virus.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA.


There is an urgent need to develop novel therapies for controlling chronic virus infections in immunocompromised patients. Disease associated with persistent γ-herpesvirus infection (EBV, human herpesvirus 8) is a significant problem in AIDS patients and transplant recipients, and clinical management of these conditions is difficult. Immune surveillance failure followed by γ-herpesvirus recrudescence can be modeled using murine γ-herpesvirus (MHV)-68 in mice lacking CD4(+) T cells. In contrast with other chronic infections, no obvious defect in the functional capacity of the viral-specific CD8(+) T cell response was detected. We show in this article that adoptive transfer of MHV-68-specific CD8(+) T cells was ineffective at reducing the viral burden. Together, these indicate the potential presence of T cell extrinsic suppressive factors. Indeed, CD4-depleted mice infected with MHV-68 express increased levels of IL-10, a cytokine capable of suppressing the function of both APCs and T cells. CD4-depleted mice developed a population of CD8(+) T cells capable of producing IL-10 that suppressed viral control. Although exhibiting cell surface markers indicative of activation, the IL-10-producing cells expressed increased levels of programmed death-1 but were not enriched in the MHV-68-specific compartment, nor were they uniformly CD44(hi). Therapeutic administration of an IL-10R blocking Ab enhanced control of the recrudescent virus. These data implicate IL-10 as a promising target for the restoration of immune surveillance against chronic γ-herpesvirus infection in immunosuppressed individuals.

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