CD4+ T cells inhibit growth of Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B cells through CD95-CD95 ligand-mediated apoptosis.
Wilson AD., Redchenko I., Williams NA., Morgan AJ.
Greater than 90% of the human population acquire Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in infancy and retain a lifelong latent infection without any clinical consequences. Nevertheless EBV has been identified as the causal agent of infectious mononucleosis, and is associated with several tumours including endemic Burkitt's lymphoma and B cell lymphomas in immunosupressed patients. B cells infected with EBV are transformed in vitro and grow continuously as lymphoblastoid cell lines. The growth of EBV-transformed B cells in vivo is controlled by the immune system. Studies on immunity to EBV have mainly focused on MHC class I-restricted CD8+ cytotoxic T cells specific for viral latent antigens. Here it is reported that in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood lymphocytes by autologous EBV-infected B cells, which have been induced to express lytic cycle antigens, gives rise to a predominantly CD4+ T cell response. Furthermore, the growth of EBV-infected B cells can also be regulated by these activated CD4+ T cells through apoptosis mediated by CD95-CD95 ligand (CD95L). CD95-CD95L-mediated apoptosis is an important mechanism of normal B cell growth regulation. As EBV-transformed B cells remain susceptible to this mechanism, the control of EBV in vivo may be not only by virus-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cell immunity but also by normal mechanisms of immune regulation of B cell growth.