Investigation of the role of CD8+ T cells in bovine tuberculosis in vivo

B. Villarreal-Ramos*, M. McAulay, V. Chance, M. Martin, J. Morgan, C. J. Howard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (SciVal)


Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (TB), and it has the potential to induce disease in humans. CD8+ T cells (CD8 cells) have been shown to respond to mycobacterial antigens in humans, cattle, and mice. In mice, CD8 cells have been shown to play a role in protection against mycobacterial infection. To determine the role of CD8 cells in bovine TB in vivo, two groups of calves were infected with the virulent M. bovis strain AF2122/97. After infection, one group was injected with a CD8 cell-depleting monoclonal antibody (MAb), and the other group was injected with an isotype control MAb. Immune responses to mycobacterial antigens were measured weekly in vitro. After 8 weeks, the animals were killed, and postmortem examinations were carried out. In vitro proliferation responses were similar in both calf groups, but in vitro gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production in 24-h whole-blood cultures was significantly higher in control cattle than in CD8 cell-depleted calves. Postmortem examination showed that calves in both groups had developed comparable TB lesions in the lower respiratory tract and associated lymph nodes. Head lymph node lesion scores, on the other hand, were higher in control calves than in CD8 cell-depleted calves. Furthermore, there was significant correlation between the level of IFN-γ and the head lymph node lesion score. These experiments indicate that CD8 cells play a role in the immune response to M. bovis in cattle by contributing to the IFN-γ response. However, CD8 cells may also play a deleterious role by contributing to the immunopathology of bovine TB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4297-4303
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number8
Early online date21 Jul 2003
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2003


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