Recognition of Influenza A Virus by Human Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are an important component of the immune system carrying the CD8 surface glycoprotein and forming a significant part of the total lymphoid population. The role of CTL appears to be to kill cells of the body that differ from normal and this occurs during infection with intracellular parasites, particularly viruses. It is likely that CTL have evolved as a major defence mechanism against virus infections. CTL are detected in vitro by their ability to kill infected target cells that are labelled with chromium-51. There is evidence that CTL lyse infected cells in vivo (1) and they may also act by releasing lymphokines such as Interferon-Gamma (2). When infected cells are killed they can no longer replicate new virus particles, and if the cell is already doomed this is an effective way of controlling a virus infection. However the constraints on CTL antigen receptors preclude them from recognising and neutralising virus particules directly. The natural role of CTL therefore is likely to be quite distinct from that of the antibody response.
KeywordsMajor Histocompatibility Complex Influenza Virus Major Histocompatibility Complex Class Major Histocompatibility Complex Molecule Major Histocompatibility Complex Antigen
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