Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) may be mediated by superantigen-activated T cells, a theory we tested in rabbits, which are more susceptible to the lethal effects of superantigens, such as TSS toxin-1 (TSST-1), than are mice. Rabbits exposed to 10 cGy of total body irradiation exhibited T cell deficiency, with profound depletion of splenic lymphocytes and circulating CD4+ lymphocytes, as well as an inability to manifest delayed-type hypersensitivity. Nevertheless, these rabbits remained completely susceptible to TSST-1, indicating that TSS can occur in the setting of marked immunosuppression.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Received 15 October 2002; accepted 7 May 2003; electronically published 30 September 2003. Financial support: National Institutes of Health (grant AI22159). a Present affiliations: Department of Internal Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver (M.M.D.); Lawson Health Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada (J.K.M.). Reprints or correspondence: Dr. Patrick M. Schlievert, Department of Microbiology, University of Minnesota Medical School, 420 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (pats@lenti .med.umn.edu).