Friday, April 24, 2015

Characteristics and critical function of CD8+ T cells in the Toxoplasma-infected brain

 2015 Apr 22. [Epub ahead of print]


The rise of the AIDS epidemic made the requirement for T cells in our continuous protection from pathogens critically apparent. The striking frequency with which AIDS patients exhibited profound neurological pathologies brought attention to many chronic infections that are latent within the immune-privileged CNS. One of the most common lethal opportunistic infections of these patients was with the protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. Reactivation of Toxoplasma cysts within the brain causes massive tissue destruction evidenced as multiple ring-enhancing lesions on MRI and is called toxoplasmic encephalitis (TE). TE is not limited to AIDS patients, but rather is a risk for all severely immunocompromised patients, including recipients of chemotherapy or transplant recipients. The lessons learned from these patient populations are supported by T cell depletion studies in mice. Such experiments have demonstrated that CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are required for protection against TE. Although it is clear that these T cell subsets work synergistically to fight infection, much evidence has been generated that suggests CD8+ T cells play a dominant role in protection during chronic toxoplasmosis. In other models of CNS inflammation, such as intracerebral infection with LCMV and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), infiltration of T cells into the brain is harmful and even fatal. In the brain of the immunocompetent host, the well-regulated T cell response to T. gondii is therefore an ideal model to understand a controlled inflammatory response to CNS infection. This review will examine our current understanding of CD8+ T cells in the CNS during T. gondii infection in regards to the (1) mechanisms governing entry into the brain, (2) cues that dictate behavior within the brain, and (3) the functional and phenotypic properties exhibited by these cells.
[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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