The massive inflammation of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which occurs in adult mice injected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) has been analyzed by flow microfluorometry (FMF). The great majority of the T cells detected by direct examination of freshly obtained CSF were found to be Lyt-2+, with an almost total absence of L3T4+ lymphocytes. The Lyt-2/L3T4 ratio of lymphocytes in blood was within normal limits. Predominance of the Lyt-2+ subset was confirmed by culturing the CSF cells after mitogenic stimulation. In addition, the T lymphocytes in CSF of cyclophosphamide-suppressed, virus-infected recipients that had been injected 4 d previously with LCMV-immune spleen cells were almost entirely donor Lyt-2+ cells, while the nonlymphoid elements were exclusively of host origin. However this pattern of donor and host T cell distribution was reversed when the LCMV-infected recipients were not immunosuppressed. The frequency of LCMV-specific CTL precursors in CSF taken immediately before the development of symptoms was as low as 1:3,000 cells. Thus most of the T lymphocytes extravasating into the CSF of mice with LCM are passive participants recruited as a consequence of the function of relatively few LCMV-specific effector T cells. The dominance of the Lyt-2+ T cell subset in the CSF of mice with LCM is intriguing.

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