Interstitial pneumonia caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a fatal disease in immunocompromised patients. In order to examine the defense mechanism against the virus in the lung, we employed an intratracheal infection model in susceptible mice. In mice infected intratracheally with murine CMV, a protracted infection was observed where infectious virus was detected up to 21 days of infection. During this prolonged infection, massive accumulation in the lung of CD8+ T cells with activated phenotypes occurred and these CD8+ T cells showed direct ex vivo cytolytic activity against target cells pulsed with the non-amer peptide derived from IE1 protein of the virus, which has been shown to be the dominant epitope recognized by most of virus-specific CTL. Moreover, adoptive transfer of in vitro induced IE1 peptide-specific CTL line showed no anti-virus effect in the lung, although they were effective in the spleen. Hence, there is reason to assume the IE1-specific CTL induced in vivo or in vitro plays limited roles during the prolonged infection in the lung.
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