Thymus-Dependent Lymphocytes: Destruction by Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus

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Science  14 Mar 1969:
Vol. 163, Issue 3872, pp. 1216-1219
DOI: 10.1126/science.163.3872.1216


Selective destruction of small lymphocytes in the thymusdependent areas of lymph nodes and thymocytes was observed in mice infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. These changes were clearly evident in lymphoid and splenic tissue 3 days after infection and in the thymus by day 7. The destructive changes paralleled growth of the virus in these organs. The findings show that infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus can temporarily cause the equivalent effect of neonatal thymectomy, that is, a "viral thymectomy," which appears to be related to the ability of this virus to cause persistent infection.

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