Adult athymic Nu/Nu mice showed increased susceptibility to lethal infection with murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) when compared to their heterozygous T cell-competent Nu/+ littermates. However, the extent of this increase in susceptibility varied dramatically depending on the genetic background of the mice carrying the Nu/Nu gene. Genetically susceptible Balb/c ( ) mice showed a greater than 316-fold difference between the LD of Nu/Nu and Nu/+ littermates. In marked contrast, the genetically resistant CBA ( ) strain was characterized by only a 16-fold difference in resistance between Nu/Nu and Nu/+ mice, and furthermore, the athymic CBA Nu/Nu mice were no more susceptible than the T cell-competent Balb/c Nu/+ strain. These results together with previous observations strongly suggest that the ( )-associated resistance of the CBA strain is mediated by non-T cell-dependent early defence mechanisms.


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