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CD8+ T cells are the major lymphocyte subpopulation involved in the protective immune response to Toxoplasma gondii in mice

Parker, S J and Roberts, C W and Alexander, J and Roberts, Craig (1991) CD8+ T cells are the major lymphocyte subpopulation involved in the protective immune response to Toxoplasma gondii in mice. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 84 (2). pp. 207-212. ISSN 0009-9104

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The ability of the major T cell subsets to adoptively transfer resistance to T. gondii infection was studied. Spleen cells harvested from mice with a 3-month T. gondii infection and cells from uninfected mice were enriched for T cells by nylon/wool purification. Adoptive transfer of these cells from both groups of donor mice led to a significant increase in the survival of syngeneic recipient mice infected intraperitoneally with 20 T. gondii cysts. Increased survival was mediated particularly by CD4-depleted but also, to a lesser extent, CD8-depleted subpopulations. These results were confirmed in T cell reconstituted athymic nude mice. Unfractionated T cells from chronically infected donors produced a significant inhibition of cyst formation in the brains of recipient mice measured 10 weeks after infection compared with control mice. The inhibition of cyst formation was ablated by pretreating T cells with anti-CD8 antibody and complement, but not anti-CD4 antibody and complement. Mice receiving cells from infected donors produced an early increase in their IgG1 and IgG2a antibody titres compared with mice given cells from uninfected animals. The depletion of either CD8+ or CD4+ immune cells appeared to have little effect on the antibody responses in recipient mice and there was no correlation between antibody levels and immunity. The results indicate that CD8+ T lymphocytes from convalescent T. gondii-infected BALB/c mice are the principal mediators of resistance to T. gondii, although CD4+ T cells appear to be involved during the acute phase of infection.