CD4 T cells inhibit the CD8 T cell response during low-dose virus infection

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CD4 T cells are not thought to play a significant role in generating an effective primary CD8 T cell response to most viral infections. We have challenged this view by demonstrating that antigen-specific CD4 T cells can indeed suppress the proliferation of antigen-specific naive CD8 T cells in response to low doses of vesicular stomatitis virus. This finding is in contrast to the established observations that at high antigen loads CD4 T cells play little role in generating CD8 T cell responses, and that in non-infectious model systems CD4 T cells actually help the CD8 T cell response. Our results suggest that at low infectious doses, CD4 T cells play a much larger role in controlling infections than previously appreciated.

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