Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Infection and Immunity


Geisel School of Medicine


T-cell immunity is critical for survival of hosts infected with Toxoplasma gondii. Among the cells in the T-cell population, CD8+ T cells are considered the major effector cells against this parasite. It is believed that CD4+ T cells may be crucial for induction of the CD8+-T-cell response against T. gondii. In the present study, CD4−/− mice were used to evaluate the role of conventional CD4+ T cells in the immune response against T. gondii infection. CD4−/− mice infected with T. gondii exhibited lower gamma interferon (IFN-γ) messages in the majority of their tissues. As a result, mortality due to a hyperinflammatory response was prevented in these animals. Interestingly, T. gondii infection induced a normal antigen-specific CD8+-T-cell immune response in CD4−/− mice. No difference in generation of precursor cytotoxic T lymphocytes (pCTL) or in IFN-γ production by the CD8+-T-cell populations from the knockout and wild-type animals was observed. However, the mutant mice were not able to sustain CD8+-T-cell immunity. At 180 days after infection, the CD8+-T-cell response in the knockout mice was depressed, as determined by pCTL and IFN-γ assays. Loss of CD8+-T-cell immunity at this time was confirmed by adoptive transfer experiments. Purified CD8+ T cells from CD4−/− donors that had been immunized 180 days earlier failed to protect the recipient mice against a lethal infection. Our study demonstrated that although CD8+-T-cell immunity can be induced in the absence of conventional CD4+ T cells, it cannot be maintained without such cells.



Original Citation

Casciotti L, Ely KH, Williams ME, Khan IA. CD8(+)-T-cell immunity against Toxoplasma gondii can be induced but not maintained in mice lacking conventional CD4(+) T cells. Infect Immun. 2002 Feb;70(2):434-43. doi: 10.1128/iai.70.2.434-443.2002. PMID: 11796568; PMCID: PMC127655.