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Abstract In various models of chronic infections and cancers, blockade of the inhibitory programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) pathway has been shown to be promising at restoring immune function. However, there is not a complete understanding of the factors that influence responsiveness to programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) blockade. In particular, it is currently unclear whether the efficacy of PD-L1 blockade is dependent on the stage of disease. In a model of chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection in mice, we show that exhausted CD8 T cells during the late stage of infection are refractory to rescue by PD-L1 blockade. Interestingly, PD-L1 blockade during the late stage of infection resulted in a biased expansion of PD-1+ CTLA-4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) over antiviral CD8 T cells. Although previous studies have shown that Treg ablation can enhance the immune rescue by PD-L1 blockade, this regimen may induce lethal autoimmunity. In this report, we show that PD-L1 blockade together with CD4 T cell depletion effectively rescued deeply exhausted CD8 T cells and enhanced antiviral control during the late stage of chronic infection without any associated mortality. These data demonstrate the pleiotropic effects of anti–PD-L1 therapy on both virus-specific CD8 T cells and Tregs, and suggest a novel strategy for effectively rescuing deeply exhausted CD8 T cells.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of Immunology


The American Association of Immunologists

Publication Date





1054 - 1063