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BACKGROUND: Cooperation of CD4+ T helper cells with specific B cells is crucial for protective vaccination against pathogens by inducing long-lived neutralizing antibody responses. During infection with persistence-prone viruses, prolonged virus replication correlates with low neutralizing antibody responses. We recently described that a viral mutant of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), which lacks a T helper epitope, counterintuitively induced an enhanced protective antibody response. Likewise, partial depletion of the CD4+ T cell compartment by using anti-CD4 antibodies enhanced protective antibodies. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here we have developed a protocol to selectively reduce the CD4+ T cell response against viral CD4+ T cell epitopes. We demonstrate that in vivo treatment with LCMV-derived MHC-II peptides induced non-responsiveness of specific CD4+ T cells without affecting CD4+ T cell reactivity towards other antigens. This was associated with accelerated virus-specific neutralizing IgG-antibody responses. In contrast to a complete absence of CD4+ T cell help, tolerisation did not impair CD8+ T cell responses. CONCLUSIONS: This result reveals a novel "negative vaccination" strategy where specific CD4+ T cell unresponsiveness may be used to enhance the delayed protective antibody responses in chronic virus infections.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Antibodies, Viral, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cell Separation, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Flow Cytometry, Immune Tolerance, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Molecular Sequence Data, Neutralization Tests