CD8+ T cells control Th2-driven pathology during pulmonary respiratory syncytial virus infection

Eur J Immunol. 1997 Dec;27(12):3341-9. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830271233.


BALB/c mice vaccinated with vaccinia virus expressing the major surface glycoprotein G of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) develop lung eosinophilia during RSV challenge. The G protein is remarkable in that it induces CD4+, but no CD8+ T cells in this mouse strain. Studies using passive T cell transfers show that co-injection of CD8+ T cells greatly reduces the Th2-driven lung eosinophilia caused by G-specific CD4+ T cells. By contrast, vaccination with the fusion protein (F) induces both CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, but not lung eosinophilia during RSV infection. These observations suggest that CD8+ T cells play a crucial role in preventing Th2-driven pathology. We therefore depleted mice with anti-CD8 antibodies in vivo. This treatment allowed lung eosinophilia to develop in F-primed mice. Depletion of interferon (IFN)-gamma had a similar effect, suggesting that secretion of this cytokine is the mechanism by which CD8+ T cells exert their effect. To test whether similar effects occurred in other strains of mice, RSV-infected C57BL/6 mice (which do not develop eosinophilia after sensitization to G) were treated with anti-IFN-gamma. Again, these mice developed eosinophilia. In this strain, genetic deletion of CD8-alpha, beta2-microglobulin or genes coding for the transporter associated with antigen presentation (which in each case eliminates CD8+ T cells) caused lung eosinophilia during RSV infection. These studies show the critical roles that CD8+ T cells and IFN-gamma production play in regulating Th2-driven eosinophilia and provide a unifying explanation for previous studies of lung eosinophilia. We propose that vaccines designed to enhance CD8+ T cell recognition might avoid disease caused by CD4+ Th2 cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Eosinophilia / immunology
  • Eosinophilia / pathology
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung / virology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / pathology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / pathology