CD4+ subset regulation in viral infection. Preferential activation of Th2 cells during progression of retrovirus-induced immunodeficiency in mice

R T Gazzinelli, M Makino, S K Chattopadhyay, C M Snapper, A Sher, A W Hügin, H C Morse
Journal of Immunology 1992 January 1, 148 (1): 182-8
Progressive lymphoproliferation and increasingly severe immunodeficiency are prominent features of a syndrome, designated mouse AIDS, which develops in susceptible strains of mice infected with the mixture of murine leukemia viruses, termed LP-BM5. Development of splenomegaly and lymphadenopathy, caused primarily by increases in B cell immunoblasts, requires the presence of CD4+ T cells and is assumed to be mediated by lymphokines produced by these cells inasmuch as progression of disease is markedly inhibited by treatment of infected mice with cyclosporin A. Studies of spleen cells from infected mice revealed spontaneous production of cytokines (IFN-gamma, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, and IL-10) characteristic of Th0 (or a mixture of Th1 and Th2) T helper cells at 1 wk after infection. At later times, IFN-gamma and IL-2, characteristic products of Th1 helper clones, were expressed poorly, either spontaneously or after stimulation of cells with Con A. In contrast, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, and IL-10, cytokines typically synthesized by Th2 cells, were produced in response to Con A or spontaneously through 18 wk post-infection. Increased serum IgE levels and enhanced IL-10 mRNA expression were consistent with expression of Th2 cytokines at biologically significant levels in vivo. Selective depletion of T cell subsets before stimulation with Con A showed that CD4+ T cells were the primary source of IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, and, to a lesser extent, IFN-gamma in spleens and lymph nodes of normal or infected mice. These results suggest that persistent activation of CD4+ T cells with the lymphokine profile of Th2 helper clones is responsible for chronic B cell stimulation, down-regulation of Th1 cytokines, and impaired CD8+ T cell function in mouse AIDS. This provides the first demonstration that, like many parasitic infections, viruses encoding potent antigenic stimuli can markedly affect the balance of Th subset expression.

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