Measles virus infection of human T cells modulates cytokine generation and IL-2 receptor alpha chain expression

Virology. 1997 Jun 9;232(2):241-7. doi: 10.1006/viro.1997.8577.


Measles virus (MV) suppresses specific functions in cells of the immune system and causes a generalized immunosuppression by mechanisms which remain undefined. It has been previously established that mitogen-induced proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) is suppressed by infection with MV. Our current study demonstrates that MV infection inhibits antigen-specific proliferation of T lymphocytes. The inhibition of proliferation was not due to a decrease in IL-2 production. IL-2 production in cultures of infected and uninfected antigen-specific T cells was similar. In contrast, we found that expression of the IL-2R alpha subunit was decreased in mitogen-stimulated, MV-infected PBMC and antigen-stimulated, MV-infected T lymphocytes compared to stimulated but noninfected T cells. However, the expression of the IL-2R beta subunit was not altered in MV-infected T cells. We also examined the influence of MV infection on the production of the cytokines IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, and IFN-gamma by T lymphocytes. By comparing infected versus uninfected antigen-specific T cell lines, we found that MV infection of antigen-specific activated T cells caused no substantial change in generation of IFN-gamma, IL-6, or IL-10. There was a 50% reduction in IL-4 generation following MV infection. These data indicate that the immunosuppression by acute MV infection is not associated with a generalized inhibition of cytokine production. One mechanism for the suppression of proliferation following acute MV infection may be a block in the expression of the IL-2R alpha subunit by activated T cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / virology
  • Measles virus / physiology*
  • Mitogens / pharmacology
  • Myelin Basic Protein / immunology
  • Phytohemagglutinins / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Tetanus Toxoid / immunology
  • Tuberculin / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Mitogens
  • Myelin Basic Protein
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Tetanus Toxoid
  • Tuberculin