We have examined the function of class I MHC-restricted cytotoxic T cells in experimental respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection of BALB/c mice by transfer of T cell line MJC-A2 and CTL clone E8a into RSV-infected mice. The T cell line cleared pulmonary RSV infection within 5 d in persistently infected gamma-irradiated mice, but caused acute respiratory disease. This was only seen in infected mice and was often lethal after transfer of greater than 3 x 10(6) CTL. Lower numbers of CTL produced less severe disease but still cleared lung RSV, albeit over a longer time course (up to 10 d). Clearance of lung RSV in immunocompetent mice by the T cell line and CTL clone was again accompanied by acute and sometimes lethal respiratory disease. Bronchoalveolar lavage showed severe lung hemorrhage and frequent neutrophil efflux in mice with CTL-augmented disease.

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