Chronic Ag exposure during persistent viral infection erodes virus-specific CD8 T cell numbers and effector function, with a concomitant loss of pathogen control. Less clear are the respective contributions of Ag-specific and Ag-nonspecific (bystander) events on the quantity, quality, and maintenance off antiviral CD8 T cells responding to persistent virus infection. In this study, we show that low-dose inoculation with mouse polyomavirus (PyV) elicits a delayed, but numerically equivalent, antiviral CD8 T cell response compared with high-dose inoculation. Low-dose infection generated virus-specific CDS T cells endowed with multicytokine functionality and a superior per cell capacity to produce IFN-γ. PyV-specific CDS T cells primed by low-dose inoculation also expressed higher levels of IL-7Rα and bcl-2 and possessed enhanced Ag-independent survival. Importantly, the quantity and quality of the antiviral CD8 T cell response elicited by dendritic cell-mediated immunization were mitigated by infection with a mutant PyV lacking the dominant CD8 T cell viral epitope. These findings suggest that the fitness of the CDS T cell response to persistent virus infection is programmed in large part by early virus-associated Ag-nonspecific factors, and imply that limiting bystander inflammation at the time of inoculation, independent of Ag load, may optimize adaptive immunity to persistent viral infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy