Pathological changes in the spleens of gamma interferon receptor-deficient mice infected with murine gammaherpesvirus: a role for CD8 T cells

B M Dutia, C J Clarke, D J Allen, A A Nash

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Murine gammaherpesvirus is a natural rodent pathogen which causes a primary infection in the lungs and establishes a persistent infection in B lymphocytes. During the primary infection, large amounts of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) are produced by spleen, mediastinal, and cervical lymph node cells. To investigate the role of IFN-gamma in control of the virus infection, mice lacking the cellular receptor for IFN-gamma (IFN-gamma R-/- mice) were infected with murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68). IFN-gamma R-/- mice showed no difference from wild-type mice in the titers of infectious virus in the lungs or in the rate of clearance of the lung infection. In the spleen, however, clear differences were observed. By 14 days postinfection, spleens from IFN-gamma R-/- mice were pale, shrunken, and fibrous. Histological examination showed that there was an early (day 10) infiltration of granulocytes followed by widespread destruction of splenic architecture (days 14 to 17). A marked decrease in the number of splenic B cells and CD4+ and CD8+ T cells occurred. These changes were accompanied by a 10- to 100-fold greater load of latently infected cells in IFN-gamma R-/- mice than in wild-type mice at 14 to 17 days postinfection, but this was reduced to the levels found in wild-type mice by 21 days postinfection. Treatment of the mice with the antiviral drug 2'-deoxyl-5-ethyl-beta-4'-thiouridine from 6 days postinfection did not prevent the occurrence of these changes. The changes were, however, completely reversed by depletion of CD8+ T cells prior to and during the primary infection. Depletion of CD4+ T cells also reversed the major pathological and virological changes, although in this case there was evidence of some histological changes. Thus, the lack of IFN-gamma receptor had profound consequences in spleens of MHV68-infected mice. The possible mechanisms involved in these changes are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4278-83
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997


  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Gammaherpesvirinae
  • Herpesviridae Infections
  • Lung
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptors, Interferon
  • Spleen
  • Virus Latency
  • Virus Replication


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