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Ebola virus infection kinetics in chimeric mice reveal a key role of T cells as barriers for virus dissemination.


Ebola virus (EBOV) causes severe systemic disease in humans and non-human primates characterized by high levels of viremia and virus titers in peripheral organs. The natural portals of virus entry are the mucosal surfaces and the skin where macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs) are primary EBOV targets. Due to the migratory properties of DCs, EBOV infection of these cells has been proposed as a necessary step for virus dissemination via draining lymph nodes and blood. Here we utilize chimeric mice with competent hematopoietic-driven immunity, to show that EBOV primarily infects CD11b(+) DCs in non-lymphoid and lymphoid tissues, but spares the main cross-presenting CD103(+) DC subset. Furthermore, depletion of CD8 and CD4 T cells resulted in loss of early control of virus replication, viremia and fatal Ebola virus disease (EVD). Thus, our findings point out at T cell function as a key determinant of EVD progress and outcome.