Specificity of cytotoxic T-cell function was investigated for a range of different influenza viruses. T cells from mice immunized with A or B strain influenza viruses, or with vaccinia virus, showed reciprocal exclusion of cytotoxicity. Extensive cross-reactivity was, however, found for lymphocyte populations from mice infected with a variety of serologically distinct influenza A viruses, though serum antibodies did not cross-react when tested in a radioimmunoassay using comparable target cells as immunoadsorbents. This apparent lack of T-cell specificity was recognized for immune spleen cells generated after intraperitoneal inoculation of high titers of virus, and for mediastinal lymph node populations from mice with pneumonia due to infection with much less virus. The phenomenon could not be explained on the basis of exposure to the chicken host component, which is common to A and B strain viruses. However, not all of the virus-immune T-cell clones are cross-reactive. Competitive-inhibition experiments indicate that a considerable proportion of the lymphocyte response is restricted to the immunizing virus. Even so, the less specific component is significant. Also, exposure to one type A virus was found to prime for an enhanced cell-mediated immunity response after challenge with a second, serologically different A strain virus.

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