After infection of epithelial surfaces, HSV-1 elicits a multifaceted antiviral response that controls the virus and limits it to latency in sensory ganglia. That response encompasses the CD8+ T cells, whose precise role(s) is still being defined; immune surveillance in the ganglia and control of viral spread to the brain were proposed as the key roles. We tracked the kinetics of the CD8+ T cell response across lymphoid and extralymphoid tissues after ocular infection. HSV-1-speciflc CD8+ T cells first appeared in the draining (submandibular) lymph node on day 5 and were detectable in both nondraining lymphoid and extralymphoid tissues starting on day 6. However, although lymphoid organs contained both resting (CD43 lowCFSEhigh) and virus-specific cells at different stages of proliferation and activation, extralymphoid sites (eye, trigeminal ganglion, and brain) contained only activated cells that underwent more than eight proliferations (CD43highCFSEneg) and promptly secreted IFN-γ upon contact with viral Ags. Regardless of the state of activation, these cells appeared too late to prevent HSV-1 spread, which was seen in the eye (from day 1), trigeminal ganglia (from day 2), and brain (from day 3) well before the onset of a detectable CD8+ T cell response. However, CD8+ T cells were critical in reducing viral replication starting on day 6 and for its abrogation between days 8 and 10; CD8-deficient animals failed to control the virus, exhibited persisting high viral titers in the brain after day 6, and died of viral encephalitis between days 7 and 12. Thus, CD8 + T cells do not control HSV-1 spread from primary to tertiary tissues, but, rather, attack the virus in infected organs and control its replication in situ.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy