GITR (glucocorticoid-induced TNF receptor) is a recently identified member of the TNF receptor superfamily. The receptor is preferentially expressed on CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells and GITR signals break the suppressive activity of the subset. In this study, we wanted to reveal the in vivo function of GITR in herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) infection. A single injection of anti-GITR mAb (DTA-1) immediately after viral infection significantly increased the number of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells expressing CD25, an activation surface marker, and secreting IFN-gamma. We confirmed these in vivo observations by showing ex vivo that re-stimulation of CD4(+) or CD8(+) T cells with a CD4(+) or CD8(+) T-cell-specific HSV-1 peptide, respectively, induced a significant elevation in cell proliferation and in IFN-gamma secretion. Our results indicate that GITR signals play a critical role in the T-cell immunity to HSV-1.
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