Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 21632749
J. Virol. 2011 Aug;85(16):8293-306
The events leading to death in severe cases of Lassa fever (LF) are unknown. Fatality seems to be linked to high viremia and immunosuppression, and cellular immunity, rather than neutralizing antibodies, appears to be essential for survival. We previously compared Lassa virus (LV) with its genetically close but nonpathogenic homolog Mopeia virus (MV), which was used to model nonfatal LF. We showed that strong and early activation of antigen-presenting cells (APC) may play a crucial role in controlling infection. Here we developed an in vitro model of dendritic-cell (DC)-T-cell coculture in order to characterize human T-cell responses induced by MV- or LV-infected DCs. Our results show very different responses to infection with LV and MV. MV strongly and durably stimulated CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells, showing early and high activation, a strong proliferative response, and acquisition of effector and memory phenotypes. Furthermore, robust and functional CD4(+) and CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) were generated. LV, however, induced only weak memory responses. Thus, this study allows an improved understanding of the pathogenesis and immune mechanisms involved in the control of human LV.