Lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus: an ideal persistent virus?

Peter G.W. Plagemann, Raymond R.R. Rowland, Chen Even, Kay S. Faaberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


LDV contradicts all commonly held views about mechanisms of virus persistence, namely that persistence is primarily associated with noncytopathic viruses, or the selection of immune escape variants or other mutants, or a decrease in expression of certain viral proteins by infected cells, or replication in "immune-privileged sites", or a general suppression of the host immune system, etc. [1, 2, 5, 54, 77, 78]. LDV is a highly cytocidal virus that invariably establishes a life-long, viremic, persistence in mice, in spite of normal anti-viral immune responses. One secret of LDV's success in persistence is its specificity for a renewable, nonessential population of cells that is continuously regenerated, namely a subpopulation of macrophages. Since the continuous destruction of these cells is not associated with any obvious health effects, this macrophage population seems nonessential to the well-being of its host. The only function identified for this subpopulation of macrophages is clearance of the muscle type of LDH and some other enzymes [59, 67, 68]. Furthermore, the effects of LDV infection on the host immune system, namely the polyclonal activation of B cells and its associated production of autoantibodies, and the slight impairment of primary and secondary antibody responses also do not seem to be severe enough to cause any clinical consequences. But how does LDV replication in macrophages escape all host defenses? Persistence is not dependent on the seletion of immune escape variants or other mutants ([58] and Palmer, Even and Plagemann, unpublished results). Also, LDV replication is not restricted to immune-privileged sites [5]. LDV replication persists in the liver, lymphoidal tissues and testis [66]. Only the latter could be considered a site not readily accessible to immune surveillance. Most likely, resistance of LDV replication to antiviral immune responses is related to the unique structure of its envelope proteins and the production of large quantities of viral antigens. High titers of anti-LDV antibodies are generated in infected mice but they neutralize LDV infectivity only very inefficiently and, even though the antiviral antibodies are mainly of the IgG2a and IgG2b isotypes, they do not mediate complement lyses of virions [31]. Interaction of the antibodies and complement with the VP-3/VP-2 heterodimers in the viral envelope may be impeded by the exposure of only very short peptide segments of these proteins at the envelope surface and the presence of large oligosaccharide side chains. Furthermore, since LDV maturation is restricted to intracytoplasmic cisternae [59, 71], the question arises of whether any of the viral proteins are available on the surface of infected cells for ADCC. CTLs also fail to control LDV replication. Altough CTLs specific for N/VP-1 are rapidly generated, these have disappeared by 30 days p.i. [26]. The reasons for this loss are unknown, but high-dose clonal exhaustion [41, 51, 77, 78] is a reasonable possibility since, regardless of the infectious dose, large amounts of LDV proteins are present in all the lymphoidal tissues at the time of the induction of the CTL response. Furthermore, after exhaustion of CTLs in the periphery, continuous replication of LDV in the thymus [65] assures that the mice become permanently immunologically tolerant with respect to LDV antigen-specific CTLs as a result of negative selection in the thymus. LDV might be a primary example for the effectiveness of a permanent clonal CTL deletion in adult animals under natural conditions of infection. The presumed modes of transmission of LDV in nature and the events associated with its infection of mice are strikingly similar to those observed during the acute and asymptomatic phases of infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) [24, 29, 74, 78]. These include: (1) primary inefficient transmission via sexual and transplacental routes but effective transmission via blood; (2) primary replication in renewable populations of lymphoidal cells with production of large amounts of virus after the initial infection of the host followed by persistent low level of viremia in spite of antiviral immune responses; (3) persistence, reflecting continuous rounds of productive, cytocidal infection of permissive cells [59, 74] and the rate of generation of permissive cells which may be the main factor in determining the level of virus production (in the case of HIV, the rate of activation of CD4+ T cells to support a productive HIV replication might be the factor determining the rate of virus production and the progression of the disease); (4) rapid antibody formation but delayed production of neutralizing antibodies with limited neutralizing capacity; (5) rapid but transient generation of virus-specific CTLs; and (6) accumulation of large amounts of virus in newly formed germinal centers in the spleen and lymph nodes concomitant with an initiation of a permanent polyclonal activation of B cells resulting in an elevation of plasma IgG2a. The events described under points 2-6 might be generally associated with natural viremic persistent virus infections. Such persistent viruses, by necessity, have evolved properties that allow them to escape all host defenses and control of their infection by immunological processes is, therefore, difficult, if not impossible. Prevention of infection and chemotherapy may be the only approaches available to combat such virus infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-186
Number of pages20
JournalSpringer Seminars in Immunopathology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus: an ideal persistent virus?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this