Neonatal exposure to Gross murine leukemia virus results in a profound inhibition of the virus-specific T and B cell responses of adult animals. Animals exposed to virus as neonates exhibit a marked depression in virus-specific T cell function as measured by the virtual absence of in vivo delayed type hypersensitivity responses and in vitro proliferative responses to virally infected stimulator cells. Further, serum obtained from neonatally treated mice failed to either immunoprecipitate viral proteins or neutralize virus in an in vitro plaque assay, suggesting the concurrent induction of a state of B cell hyporesponsiveness. The specificity of this effect at the levels of both T and B cells was demonstrated by the ability of neonatally treated mice to respond normally after adult challenge with either irrelevant reovirus or influenza virus. The replication of Gross virus within both stromal and lymphocytic compartments of the neonatal thymus suggests that thymic education plays a key role in the induction of immunologic nonresponsiveness to viruses.

This content is only available as a PDF.