Phenotypical characterization of T and B cell areas in lymphoid tissues of dogs with spontaneous distemper

A. Wünschmann, E. Kremmer, W. Baumgärtner

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47 Scopus citations


CD3, CD4, CD5, and CD8 antigen expression of T cells and IgG expression of B cells and canine distemper virus (CDV) antigen distribution were immunohistochemically examined in lymphoid tissues (lymph node, spleen, thymus, and tonsil) of control dogs and animals with spontaneous canine distemper. In addition, CNS tissue of all animals was studied for neuropathological changes and CDV antigen distribution. Based on the degree of depletion distemper dogs were classified into two groups. Group I represented animals with moderate to marked lymphoid depletion, while group II dogs displayed mild or no depletion. CDV antigen was mainly found in lymphocytes and macrophages of group I dogs, whereas CDV expression was most prominent in dendritic cells of group II animals. In group I dogs, a marked loss of CD3, CD4, CD5, CD8, and IgG expression was noticed, hereby loss of CD4+ cells was more prominent than depletion of CD8+ cells. In the lymphoid tissues of group II animals, a significant increase in the number of T and B cells was observed compared to group I dogs. The number of CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ cells in group II dogs was similar to the findings in controls, however, CD5 and IgG expression was mildly reduced in T and B cell areas, respectively. Additionally, in groups I and II dogs, CD3+ and CD5- T cells were detected in T cell areas. Whether this cell population represents a cell type with autoimmune reactive potential remains to be determined. Surprisingly in group II animals, viral antigen was found predominantly in dendritic cells indicating a change in the cell tropism of CDV during chronic infection and a possible mechanism of viral persistence. The two patterns of lymphoid depletions correlated to two different types of canine distemper encephalitis (CDE). Group I dogs displayed acute non-inflammatory CDE, whereas group II dogs suffered from chronic inflammatory demyelinating CDE, indicating a pathogenic relationship between lymphocytic depletion and inflammatory brain lesions in distemper. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-98
Number of pages16
JournalVeterinary immunology and immunopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Annette Artelt and Sandra Heinz for excellent technical assistance, Ute Zeller for photographic support and Dr. K. Failing and H. Heiter for their help and advice for statistical analyses. We thank Dr. S. Cobbold for kindly providing the anti-CD4 mAb (clone YKIX302.9.3.7). A. Wünschmann received a research award from the Justus-Liebig-Universität, Giessen, Germany. This study was supported by grants of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Ba 815/4-1 and 815/4-2).


  • B cell antigen
  • Canine distemper virus
  • Distemper encephalitis
  • Lymphocytic depletion
  • Lymphoid tissue
  • T cell antigens


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