Quantification of epitope-specific MHC class-II-restricted T cells following lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection

Cell Immunol. 1999 May 1;193(2):134-46. doi: 10.1006/cimm.1999.1458.


CD4(+) T cells are critical for the control of many viruses; however, the numbers of virus-specific CD4(+) cells that are expanded following infection are unknown. We have addressed this issue by enumerating virus-specific, MHC class-II-restricted T cells following infection of mice with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). We have found that the numbers of T cells that produce interferon-gamma in response to stimulation with three different class-II-restricted LCMV epitopes increase from undetectable numbers in noninfected animals to between 4 x 10(5) and 2 x 10(6) cells per spleen at the peak of the T cell response. This contrasts with the numbers of virus-specific class-I-restricted T cells which expand to 1 x 10(7) to 2 x 10(7) cells per spleen during the same time period. We could not reproducibly detect virus-specific class-I-restricted or class-II-restricted T cells that produced interleukin-4 at any time following LCMV infection, indicating that infection with this virus induces a predominantly type 1 cytokine response. In contrast to the rapid decrease in the numbers of class-I-restricted T cells, the numbers of LCMV-specific class-II-restricted T cells declined gradually following the peak of the T cell response. We demonstrate, therefore, that following infection with LCMV there is expansion of both class-I-restricted and class-II-restricted virus-specific T cells; however, the degree of expansion of class-II-restricted T cells is substantially less than that observed for class-I-restricted cells. Furthermore, the downregulation phase of the class-II-restricted response is protracted compared with the precipitous contraction of the antiviral CD8(+) T cell response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • Cytokines / isolation & purification
  • Epitopes
  • Genes, MHC Class II / immunology*
  • Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology
  • Spleen / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Viral Proteins / immunology


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Cytokines
  • Epitopes
  • Glycoproteins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Viral Proteins
  • Interferon-gamma