Coxsackievirus type B (CVB) infection of the pancreas induces a massive cellular infiltrate composed of natural killer cells, T cells, and macrophages and leads to the destruction of exocrine tissue. The physiological manifestations of pancreatic CVB infection are correlated with viral tropism; the virus infects acinar cells but spares the islets of Langerhans. Here we evaluate the mechanisms underlying pancreatic inflammation and destruction and identify the determinants of viral tropism. T-cell-mediated immunopathology has been invoked, along with direct virus-mediated cytopathicity, to explain certain aspects of CVB-induced pancreatic disease. However, we show here that in the pancreas, the extent of inflammation and tissue destruction appears unaltered in the absence of the cytolytic protein perforin; these findings exclude any requirement for perforin-mediated lysis by natural killer cells or cytotoxic T cells in CVB3-induced pancreatic damage. Furthermore, perforin-mediated cytotoxic T-cell activity does not contribute to the control of CVB infection in this organ. In addition, we demonstrate that the recently identified coxsackie-adenovirus receptor is expressed at high levels in acinar cells but is barely detectable in islets, which is consistent with its being a major determinant of virus tropism and, therefore, of disease. However, further studies using various cell lines of pancreatic origin reveal secondary determinants of virus tropism.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.