Programmed cell death of T lymphocytes during acute viral infection: a mechanism for virus-induced immune deficiency

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pathology; Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Acute viral infections induce immune deficiencies, as shown by unresponsiveness to mitogens and unrelated antigens. T lymphocytes isolated from mice acutely infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) were found in this study to undergo activation-induced apoptosis upon signalling through the T-cell receptor (TcR)-CD3 complex. Kinetic studies demonstrated that this sensitivity to apoptosis directly correlated with the induction of immune deficiency, as measured by impaired proliferation in response to anti-CD3 antibody or to concanavalin A. Cell cycling in interleukin-2 (IL-2) alone stimulated proliferation of LCMV-induced T cells without inducing apoptosis, but preculturing of T cells from acutely infected mice in IL-2 accelerated apoptosis upon subsequent TcR-CD3 cross-linking. T lymphocytes isolated from mice after the acute infection were less responsive to IL-2, but those T cells, presumably memory T cells, responding to IL-2 were primed in each case to die a rapid apoptotic death upon TcR-CD3 cross-linking. These results indicate that virus infection-induced unresponsiveness to T-cell mitogens is due to apoptosis of the activated lymphocytes and suggest that the sensitization of memory cells by IL-2 induced during infection will cause them to die upon antigen recognition, thereby impairing specific responses to nonviral antigens.


J Virol. 1993 Oct;67(10):5754-65.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of virology

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID