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Gamma Interferon Production By Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes Is Required For Resolution Of Chlamydia Trachomatis Infection

Mary F. Lampe, Christopher B. Wilson, Michael J. Bevan, Michael N. Starnbach

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ABSTRACT In this study, we used mice in which the gene for gamma interferon (IFN-γ) has been disrupted (IFN-γ −/− mice) to study the role of this cytokine in the resolution of Chlamydia trachomatis infection. We show that IFN-γ −/− mice are impaired in the ability to clear infection with C. trachomatis compared to IFN-γ +/+ control mice. Activated CD8 + cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) secrete IFN-γ in response to intracellular infection, and we have shown previously that a Chlamydia -specific CTL line can reduce C. trachomatis infection when adoptively transferred into infected mice. In the present study, we found that when these IFN-γ +/+ CTL lines are transferred into Chlamydia -infected IFN-γ −/− mice, the transferred CTL cannot overcome the immune defect seen in the IFN-γ −/− mice. We also show that Chlamydia -specific CTL can be cultured from IFN-γ-deficient mice infected with C. trachomatis ; however, the adoptive transfer of IFN-γ −/− CTL into infected IFN-γ +/+ mice does not reduce the level of infection. These results suggest that IFN-γ production by CTL is not sufficient to overcome the defect that IFN-γ −/− mice have in the resolution of Chlamydia infection, yet IFN-γ production by CTL is required for the protective effect seen upon adoptive transfer of CTL into IFN-γ +/+ mice.