Role of CD8 T cells in primary Chlamydia infection

D. M. Magee, D. M. Williams, J. G. Smith, C. A. Bleicker, B. G. Grubbs, J. Schachter, R. G. Rank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The role of CD4 and CD8 T cells in primary Chlamydia trachomatis pneumonia was investigated by using in vivo depletion techniques to eliminate T-cell populations. Reduction of either CD4 T cells or CD8 T cells caused a significant increase in organism burden in the lungs, as measured by both quantitative culture and detection of chlamydial antigen on day 14 postinfection. Chlamydia-specific antibody levels in plasma or antigen- induced gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production by spleen cells was dramatically reduced by depletion of CD4 cells. The reduction in IFN-γ achieved by depletion of CD8 cells did not reach statistical significance. In the survival studies, depletion of CD4 cells led to a significant increase in mortality. Although there was a trend toward higher mortality, depletion of CD8 cells did not significantly increase mortality. The role of CD8 T cells in host defense was clarified in studies using beta 2-microglobulin-deficient (major histocompatibility class I antigen-deficient, C1D) mice which are defective in CD8 T-cell function. In this model, a significant increase in organism burden was seen during infection in C1D mice compared with that in C57BL/6 controls and a significant increase in mortality was observed as well. However, surviving C1D mice were able to clear the infection by day 34. C1D mice had increased numbers of CD4 T cells in both the spleen and the lungs during infection compared with those of C57BL/6 controls. IFN-γ in C57BL/6 mice was produced by both CD4 and CD8 cells. Thus, there is a protective role for both CD4 and CD8 cells in host defense against Chlamydia infection, but the former appear to be dominant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-521
Number of pages6
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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