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T cell cytokine profile during primary Epstein-Barr virus infection (infectious mononucleosis) Volume 14, issue 1, March 2003

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Authors
Department of Internal Medicine I, Division of Infectious Diseases, University Hospital of Vienna, Austria, Waehringerguertel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria,

Cytokine profiles of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subsets were evaluated in 8 patients with infectious mononucleosis (IM). Intracellular detection of cytokines using flow cytometry revealed an expansion of IFN-gamma-expressing CD4+ T cells, and particularly CD8+ T cells, while IL-2 expressing cells were less frequently encountered when compared to healthy controls. Single TNF-alpha-expressing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were likewise reduced and shifted towards IFN-gamma/TNF-alpha co-production. The predominant pro-inflammatory type 1-biased immune response during IM was emphasized by low frequencies of IL-10 expression in both T cell subsets, although some patients displayed elevated serum levels. Six months later, a decreased, but still elevated IFN-gamma expression within the CD8+ T cell subset, and an increased percentage of IL-2-expressing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, reaching values shown for controls, were noted. Type 2-associated cytokines such as IL-4 and IL-13, as well as IL-6 and TNF-alpha were not significantly different when compared to controls at study entry and at follow-up. The striking expansion of IFN-gamma-producing CD8+ T cells with rather low expression of IL-10, appears to be a key factor for clinically overt disease, but is nevertheless compatible with successful control of the viral infection.