Why some viruses establish chronic infections while others do not is poorly understood. One possibility is that the host's immune response is impaired during chronic infections and is unable to clear the virus from the host. In this report, we use a recently proposed framework to estimate the per capita killing efficacy of CD8+ T cells, specific for the polyoma virus (PyV), which establishes a chronic infection in mice. Surprisingly, the estimated per cell killing efficacy of PyV-specific effector CD8+ T cells during the acute phase of the infection was very similar to the efficacy of effector CD8+ T cells specific to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV-Armstrong), which is cleared from the host. Our results suggest that persistence of PyV does not result from the generation of an inefficient PyV-specific CD8+ T cell response, and that other host or viral factors are responsible for the ability of PyV to establish chronic infection.
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