Murine retrovirus infection causes an aberrant stimulation of several subsets of T helper 2 cells identified by their T cell receptors (TCR). C57BL/6 mice were treated with synthetic peptides based upon different human TCR Vβ CDR1 sequences following experimental infection with the murine retrovirus. Previous studies established that retrovirally infected mice produced autoantibodies to certain of these peptides, and their administration after infection diminished many of the cytokine abnormalities induced by the virus. This study determined whether the complete 16-mer synthetic peptides modeling the Vβ CDR1/FR3 were required, and whether admixture of autoantigenic peptides synergized immune preservation. Treatment with complete TCR pep β3 and pep Vβ5.2 peptide alone and combined largely prevented the retrovirus-induced reduction in B and T cell proliferation and Th1 cytokine secretion while suppressing excessive production of Th2 cytokines, which are stimulated by retrovirus infection. Treatment with overlapping short peptides corresponding to the N-terminal 11-mer and C-terminal 12-mer did not significantly prevent the immune dysfunction in retrovirus-infected mice. These data suggest that immune dysfunction and abnormal cytokine production, induced by murine retrovirus infection, were largely prevented by TCR Vβ CDR1 peptides, and the complete CDR1 in association with the five residues from FR2 was required.
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