The functional characteristics of lymphoid cells were investigated during acute and latent infection of mice with herpes simplex virus (HSV). Cytotoxic T cells were found in the draining lymph node (DLN) 4 days p.i. and had reached maximum activity between 6 and 9 days. After the 12th day and during the period of latent infection (> 20 days) no cytotoxic cell activity was observed. Cytotoxic activity could only be detected when the lymphoid cells had been cultured for a period of 3 days. In general, the cell killing was specific for syngeneic infected target cells, although some killing of uninfected targets was observed. In contrast to the cytotoxic response, DLN cells responding to HSV in a proliferation assay were detected towards the end of the acute phase and at least up to 9 months thereafter. The significance of these observations for the pathogenesis of HSV is discussed.


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