Humoral immunity is important for protection against viral infection and neutralization of extracellular virus, but clearance of virus from infected tissues is thought to be mediated solely by cellular immunity. However, in a SCID mouse model of persistent alphavirus encephalomyelitis, adoptive transfer of hyperimmune serum resulted in clearance of infectious virus and viral RNA from the nervous system, whereas adoptive transfer of sensitized T lymphocytes had no effect on viral replication. Three monoclonal antibodies to two different epitopes on the E2 envelope glycoprotein mediated viral clearance. Treatment of alphavirus-infected primary cultured rat neurons with these monoclonal antibodies to E2 resulted in decreased viral protein synthesis, followed by gradual termination of mature infectious virion production. Thus, antibody can mediate clearance of alphavirus infection from neurons by restricting viral gene expression.
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