The aim of this study was to investigate the importance of cellular immunity in foot-and-mouth disease in cattle, in particular to determine whether a CD8+ T-cell response could be detected, as these cells may play a role in both immunity and virus persistence. As attempts to characterize classical cytotoxic T cells had yielded non-reproducible results, largely due to high backgrounds in control cultures, a proliferation assay was developed that was demonstrated to detect antigen-specific, MHC class I-restricted bovine CD8+ cells responding to foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV). Proliferative CD8+ T-cell responses were detected consistently from 10 to 14 days following infection with FMDV and typically lasted 3-4 weeks. The role of CD8+ T cells in control of the disease, in particular their relevance for the establishment of persistence, may now be investigated.


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