The role of T cells in immunity to foot-and-mouth disease virus is still poorly defined compared to that of the humoral response. In this paper we describe a systematic, longitudinal study on the cellular recognition of FMDV and its subunit protein VP1 by bovine peripheral blood T lymphocytes. Multiple vaccination with a single virus serotype induced a serotype cross-reactive proliferative T cell repertoire that varied in magnitude between individual animals and with the serotype of the vaccine used. Primary proliferative T cell responses of vaccinated and acutely infected cattle were weak relative to the magnitude of responses determined for the same animals after boosting. In contrast, the level of circulating antibody produced after both primary and secondary exposure to virus was good. Phenotypic analysis of lymphocytes from vaccinated or infected cattle showed a small increase in CD8 T cells after infection compared to vaccination. However, in general the profiles of circulating lymphocytes elicited were similar. Thus, we were not able to use proliferative or phenotypic analyses to distinguish between vaccinated and convalescent cattle. T cell recognition of VP1 by multiply-vaccinated cattle was serotype-specific implying that the cross-reactive responses observed with whole virus may be attributed to proteins other than VP1. In contrast to other studies, immunization with recombinant VP1 induced only low levels of neutralizing antibody and failed to elicit profound proliferative responses or protection even after two immunizations.


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