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Research Article

Adoptive transfer of lymphocytes sensitized to the major surface glycoprotein of Pneumocystis carinii confers protection in the rat.

S A Theus, R P Andrews, P Steele and P D Walzer

Research Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45220, USA.

Published June 1995

Pneumocystis carinii is a major opportunistic pathogen and a leading cause of morbidity in patients with AIDS. CD4+ cells have been shown to be important in host defenses against P. carinii, but the antigen(s) involved with this response have not been identified. We undertook the present study to determine whether the major surface glycoprotein (MSG) of P. carinii contains epitopes that can elicit a protective cellular immune response. Spleen cells and purified CD4+ cells isolated from Lewis rats, pulsed 1-4 d with MSG, and injected into corticosteroid-treated Lewis rats with pneumocystosis resulted in significant reduction in the P. carinii burden, as judged by organism quantitation and lung histology. The protective response demonstrated by the donor cells was dependent on previous exposure to P. carinii, cell concentration, and time of incubation with MSG. In addition, reconstitution with MSG-specific CD4+ cells resulted in an early hyperinflammatory response within the lungs of these animals with a high percentage of mortality. Thus, in this model, MSG can elicit an immune response mediated by CD4+ cells, which has a harmful as well as helpful effect on the host, and these responses occur despite the presence of corticosteroids.

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