We present experimental data that offer, in part, a better understanding of the immunosuppression that accompanies measles virus infection. We note that measles virus "silently" infects human lymphocytes and that the infection does not alter lymphocyte survival in vitro. Yet such infected lymphocytes fail to generate natural killer (NK) cell activity or synthesize immunoglobulins (Ig). Thus, the presence of virus within lymphocytes impairs their specific immune functions in the absence of cytolysis. Influenza virus also infects human lymphocytes. In contrast to measles virus infection of resting lymphocytes in which viral antigen is rarely expressed, influenza virus infection of these cells yields viral antigens expressed in the cytoplasm and on the cell surface. Influenza virus-infected lymphocytes have normal NK cell activity but fail to synthesize IgG or IgM.

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