The lymphocyte transformation assay was used to monitor the cellular immune response of rabbits sensitized to cytomegalovirus (CMV). Peripheral blood lymphocytes from animals inoculated with purified virus were specifically stimulated by crude or twice-banded CMV. Blood cells from rabbits immunized to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) responded to that antigen but not to CMV. Viable or heated CMV preparations stimulated unwashed blood cells as efficiently as washed cells. Furthermore, preincubation of stimulating antigen with anti-CMV serum did not prevent lymphocyte activation. Lymphoid cells readily stimulated by virus antigen were not stimulated by cells transformed by CMV or HSV-1.

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