Temporal development of protective cell-mediated and humoral immunity in BALB/c mice infected with Brucella abortus

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In BALB/c mice infected i.v. with attenuated strain 19 of Brucella abortus, the organism replicates to high numbers in the spleen and reaches peak concentrations at 2 wk postinfection (p.i.). The infection is then progressively cleared so that by 8 wk p.i. numbers of bacteria have decreased 10,000 fold or more. Passive transfer assays were performed with T-cell-enriched spleen cells and serum of donor mice infected 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 8 wk previously. Antibodies conferred significant protection to recipients at and after 3 wk p.i., whereas protection by T cells was not evident until 4 wk p.i. The combined transfer of serum and cells enhanced protection over that provided by serum or cells alone when transfers were made before, but not after, challenge infection. Protection conferred by T cell-enriched spleen cells of 6-wk donors was unaffected by the presence of equal quantities of cells from 3-wk donors, but was abrogated by the removal of both CD4 and CD8 T cell subsets. Experiments with purified CD4 and CD8 subsets revealed that cell-mediated protection resided at equivalent levels in both subsets. Daily treatment of mice with Cyclosporin A for 4 wk after infection caused some increase in numbers of brucellae in spleens and livers. Although immune responses of treated animals were markedly suppressed, there was little effect of treatment on numbers of macrophages in the spleen, on enhanced killing of Listeria monocytogenes in the spleen, or on the nature and intensity of splenic and hepatic inflammatory responses. These data indicate that acquired resistance to infection with B. abortus in mice is the result of independent, and probably also interactive, effects of antibodies and T effector cells of both CD4 and CD8 phenotypes. The initial decline in bacterial numbers in the spleen, which occurred in the absence of detectable cell-mediated immunity in that organ, could probably be ascribed principally to effects of antibodies and to nonimmune stimuli responsible for increased formation, attraction, and activation of macrophages.

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Journal of Immunology

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