The Memory T Cell Response to West Nile Virus in Symptomatic Humans following Natural Infection Is Not Influenced by Age and Is Dominated by a Restricted Set of CD8+ T Cell Epitopes
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We examined the West Nile virus (WNV)-specific T cell response in a cohort of 52 patients with symptomatic WNV infections, including neuroinvasive and non-invasive disease. Although all virus proteins were shown to contain T cell epitopes, certain proteins, such as E, were more commonly targeted by the T cell response. Most patients exhibited reactivity toward 3-4 individual WNV peptides; however, several patients exhibited reactivity toward >10 individual peptides. The relative hierarchy of T cell reactivities in all patients showed a fixed pattern that was sustained throughout the 12-mo period of the current study. Surprisingly, we did not observe any relationship between age and either the breadth or magnitude of the T cell response following infection. We also did not observe a relationship between disease severity and either the breadth or magnitude of the T cell response. The T cell epitopes were distributed in a non-random fashion across the viral polyprotein and a limited number of epitopes appeared to dominate the CD8(+) T cell response within our cohort. These data provide important new insight into the T cell response against WNV in humans.
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