The outcome of a viral infection or of immunization with a vaccine can be influenced by the local cytokine environment. In studies of experimental vaccines against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an increased stimulation of Th2 (T helper 2) lymphocytes was associated with increased immunopathology upon subsequent RSV infection. For this study, we investigated the effect of increased local expression of the Th2 cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) from the genome of a recombinant RSV following primary infection and after a challenge with wild-type (wt) RSV. Mice infected with RSV/IL-4 exhibited an accelerated pulmonary inflammatory response compared to those infected with wt RSV, although the wt RSV group caught up by day 8. In the first few days postinfection, RSV/IL-4 was associated with a small but significant acceleration in the expansion of pulmonary T lymphocytes specific for an RSV CD8+ cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) epitope presented as a major histocompatibility complex class I tetramer. However, by day 7 the response of tetramer-positive T lymphocytes in the wt RSV group caught up and exceeded that of the RSV/IL-4 group. At all times, the CTL response of the RSV/IL-4 group was deficient in the production of gamma interferon and was nonfunctional for in vitro cell killing. The accelerated inflammatory response coincided with an accelerated accumulation and activation of pulmonary dendritic cells early in infection, but thereafter the dendritic cells were deficient in the expression of B7-1, which governs the acquisition of cytolytic activity by CTL. Following a challenge with wt RSV, there was an increase in Th2 cytokines in the animals that had previously been infected with RSV/IL-4 compared to those previously infected with wt RSV, but the CD8+ CTL response and the amount of pulmonary inflammation were not significantly different. Thus, a strong Th2 environment during primary pulmonary immunization with live RSV resulted in early inflammation and a largely nonfunctional primary CTL response but had a minimal effect on the secondary response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science