Murine gammaherpesvirus-induced splenomegaly: a critical role for CD4 T cells

J Gen Virol. 1996 Apr;77 ( Pt 4):627-30. doi: 10.1099/0022-1317-77-4-627.


Murine gammaherpesvirus (MHV-68) causes an acute respiratory infection followed by a latent infection in B lymphocytes. In the first 2-3 weeks after infection mice develop a marked splenomegaly, where the spleen cell number increases by 2-3 fold. Cytofluorimetric analysis during splenomegaly revealed an increase in numbers of B lymphocytes and of both CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes. The largest increase relative to uninfected spleens was in the CD8+ population. The number of latently infected cells in the spleen peaked at day 10 post-intraperitoneal infection, then declined to 1/10(6)-1/10(7) cells per spleen. Depletion of CD4+ T lymphocytes prevented the splenomegaly and greatly reduced the peak infective centre level, while having no effect on the long-term of latently infected cells. Given the similarity between MHV-68-induced splenomegaly and Epstein-Barr virus-induced infectious mononucleosis, these data highlight the usefulness of MHV-68 as a mouse model for the study of gammaherpesvirus immunology and pathobiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Gammaherpesvirinae / immunology*
  • Gammaherpesvirinae / physiology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Spleen / pathology
  • Splenomegaly / immunology
  • Splenomegaly / virology*
  • Virus Latency