Other Immune response, not acute viral infections, responsible for neurological damage (Feb 2024, mice) Bystander activated CD8+ T cells mediate neuropathology during viral infection via antigen-independent cytotoxicity

Michael Harrop

Active member
Jul 6, 2023

For years, there has been a long-held belief that acute viral infections like Zika or COVID-19 are directly responsible for neurological damage, but researchers from McMaster University have now discovered that it's the immune system's response that is behind it.


Although many viral infections are linked to the development of neurological disorders, the mechanism governing virus-induced neuropathology remains poorly understood, particularly when the virus is not directly neuropathic. Using a mouse model of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection, we found that the severity of neurological disease did not correlate with brain ZIKV titers, but rather with infiltration of bystander activated NKG2D+CD8+ T cells. Antibody depletion of CD8 or blockade of NKG2D prevented ZIKV-associated paralysis, suggesting that CD8+ T cells induce neurological disease independent of TCR signaling. Furthermore, spleen and brain CD8+ T cells exhibited antigen-independent cytotoxicity that correlated with NKG2D expression. Finally, viral infection and inflammation in the brain was necessary but not sufficient to induce neurological damage. We demonstrate that CD8+ T cells mediate virus-induced neuropathology via antigen-independent, NKG2D-mediated cytotoxicity, which may serve as a therapeutic target for treatment of virus-induced neurological disease.
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