CD8+ T cell-mediated protection against an intracellular bacterium by perforin-dependent cytotoxicity

Eur J Immunol. 1994 Dec;24(12):3068-72. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830241223.


Growth of Listeria monocytogenes is mainly controlled by macrophages, which are activated by specific T cells. A potential role of CD8+ T cells by direct lysis of infected cells was investigated in perforin-deficient mice generated by homologous recombination. The absence of perforin-mediated cytotoxicity resulted in delayed clearance of Listeria from the spleen but not the liver after primary infection, overall susceptibility to Listeria however was not increased. Protection against a secondary infection was drastically impaired in perforin-deficient mice. Adoptive transfer of immune spleen cells to recipients revealed that anti-Listeria protection by CD8+ T cells from perforin-deficient versus normal mice was about 10-fold reduced in livers and about 100-fold reduced in the spleen of recipients. CD4+ T cells from immune control and perforin-deficient mice conferred comparable protection. These results indicate that the protective effect of CD8+ T cells against an intracellular bacterium mainly evident in secondary infection is mediated by a perforin-dependent pathway, presumably cytotoxicity, and less by other direct or indirect effector mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Listeria monocytogenes / immunology
  • Listeriosis / immunology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / deficiency
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Perforin
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins
  • Perforin