Induction of cytotoxic T-cell responses in vivo in the absence of CD4 helper cells

Nature. 1987 Jul 2-8;328(6125):77-9. doi: 10.1038/328077a0.


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) seem to provide the major line of defence against many viruses. CTL effector functions are mediated primarily by cells carrying the CD8 (Ly-2) antigen (CD8+ cells) and are triggered by interactions of the T-cell receptor with an antigenic complex, often termed 'self plus X', composed of viral determinants in association with class I molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The mechanism(s) of induction of virus-specific CTL in vivo is poorly understood, but data from in vitro experiments suggest that their generation is strictly dependent on functions provided by CD4+ helper T cells (also referred to as L3T4+; or TH) that respond to antigens in the context of class II (Ia) MHC determinants. The prevailing opinion that induction of most functions of CD8+ cells requires help provided by CD4+ cells has recently been challenged by the observation that CD8+ cells alone can mediate a variety of responses to alloantigens in vitro and in vivo; however, the possibility that CTL to self plus X could be generated in vivo in the absence of TH cells has not been evaluated. We report here that C57BL/6J (B6) and AKR/J mice, when functionally depleted of CD4+ cells by in vivo treatment with the CD4+-specific rat monoclonal antibody GK1.5 (refs 8-14) responded to ectromelia virus infection by developing an optimal in vivo virus-specific CTL response, and subsequently recovered from the disease (mousepox) that was lethal for similarly infected nude mice (CD4-, CD8-).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • Ectromelia, Infectious / immunology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred AKR
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Nude
  • Spleen / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*


  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • Antigens, Surface