Polyomavirus (PyV) infection of SCID mice, which lack functional T and B cells, leads to a lethal acute myeloproliferative disease (AMD) and to high levels of virus replication in several organs by two wk after infection. This is in contrast to infection of T cell-deficient athymic nude mice, which are resistant to acute PyV-induced disease and poorly replicate the virus in their organs. This major difference in the virus load and in the outcome of PyV infection between SCID and nude mice suggested that an efficient, T cell-independent antiviral mechanism operates in T cell-deficient, PyV infected mice. To investigate this possibility, mice with different genetically engineered T and/or B cell deficiencies and SCID mice adoptively reconstituted with B and/or T cells were infected with PyV. The results indicated that the presence of B cells in the absence of T cells protected mice from the AMD, and this was accompanied by a major reduction of PyV in all organs tested. Sera from PyV-infected T cell receptor (TCR) alpha beta knockout or TCR alpha beta gamma delta knockout mice contained IgG2a antibodies to PyV. Sera or purified immunoglobulin fractions from PyV-infected TCR alpha beta knockout mice protected SCID mice from the PyV-induced AMD. To our knowledge, this is the first report of an effective T cell-independent antibody response clearing a virus and changing the outcome of infection from 100% mortality to 100% survival.

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