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1.  Absence of Siglec-H in MCMV Infection Elevates Interferon Alpha Production but Does Not Enhance Viral Clearance 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(9):e1003648.
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) express the I-type lectin receptor Siglec-H and produce interferon α (IFNα), a critical anti-viral cytokine during the acute phase of murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection. The ligands and biological functions of Siglec-H still remain incompletely defined in vivo. Thus, we generated a novel bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-transgenic “pDCre” mouse which expresses Cre recombinase under the control of the Siglec-H promoter. By crossing these mice with a Rosa26 reporter strain, a representative fraction of Siglec-H+ pDCs is terminally labeled with red fluorescent protein (RFP). Interestingly, systemic MCMV infection of these mice causes the downregulation of Siglec-H surface expression. This decline occurs in a TLR9- and MyD88-dependent manner. To elucidate the functional role of Siglec-H during MCMV infection, we utilized a novel Siglec-H deficient mouse strain. In the absence of Siglec-H, the low infection rate of pDCs with MCMV remained unchanged, and pDC activation was still intact. Strikingly, Siglec-H deficiency induced a significant increase in serum IFNα levels following systemic MCMV infection. Although Siglec-H modulates anti-viral IFNα production, the control of viral replication was unchanged in vivo. The novel mouse models will be valuable to shed further light on pDC biology in future studies.
Author Summary
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) represent a minor but functionally important subset of dendritic cells. Siglec-H, a surface receptor expressed on these cells, was shown to modulate IFNα production, which in turn could influence anti-viral functions in vivo. A potential role for Siglec-H as a pathogen uptake receptor has also been postulated. Yet, the precise in vivo function of this molecule in viral replication remained unresolved. In this study, we adopt two novel genetic mouse models to investigate Siglec-H properties and ensuing function in vivo during murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection. By using novel reporter mice which harbour permanently labeled Siglec-H+ pDCs, we show that pDCs downregulate Siglec-H upon infection. In an additional experimental system, in which pDCs lack Siglec-H function, we demonstrate that this molecule is not important for the regulation of MCMV pathogenicity. In contrast, in the absence of Siglec-H more IFNα was detectable in the serum. Importantly, this in vivo increase in IFNα production does not influence viral replication. The biological function of Siglec-H downregulation, also in the context of other infections, requires further investigation.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003648
PMCID: PMC3784486  PMID: 24086137
2.  Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus H5N1 Infects Alveolar Macrophages without Virus Production or Excessive TNF-Alpha Induction 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(6):e1002099.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) of the subtype H5N1 causes severe, often fatal pneumonia in humans. The pathogenesis of HPAIV H5N1 infection is not completely understood, although the alveolar macrophage (AM) is thought to play an important role. HPAIV H5N1 infection of macrophages cultured from monocytes leads to high percentages of infection accompanied by virus production and an excessive pro-inflammatory immune response. However, macrophages cultured from monocytes are different from AM, both in phenotype and in response to seasonal influenza virus infection. Consequently, it remains unclear whether the results of studies with macrophages cultured from monocytes are valid for AM. Therefore we infected AM and for comparison macrophages cultured from monocytes with seasonal H3N2 virus, HPAIV H5N1 or pandemic H1N1 virus, and determined the percentage of cells infected, virus production and induction of TNF-alpha, a pro-inflammatory cytokine. In vitro HPAIV H5N1 infection of AM compared to that of macrophages cultured from monocytes resulted in a lower percentage of infected cells (up to 25% vs up to 84%), lower virus production and lower TNF-alpha induction. In vitro infection of AM with H3N2 or H1N1 virus resulted in even lower percentages of infected cells (up to 7%) than with HPAIV H5N1, while virus production and TNF-alpha induction were comparable. In conclusion, this study reveals that macrophages cultured from monocytes are not a good model to study the interaction between AM and these influenza virus strains. Furthermore, the interaction between HPAIV H5N1 and AM could contribute to the pathogenicity of this virus in humans, due to the relative high percentage of infected cells rather than virus production or an excessive TNF-alpha induction.
Author Summary
Alveolar macrophages (AM), which reside in the alveolar lumen, usually dampen down the host immune response to incoming pathogens. However, they are thought to increase inflammation during highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1 infections, which cause severe and often fatal disease in humans. This is based on experiments with human macrophages cultured from monocytes rather than with human AM. Here we show that human AM, collected via broncho-alveolar lavage from healthy volunteers, can become infected with HPAIV H5N1. However, this results in neither induction of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha nor virus production. Therefore, AM are most likely not responsible for the excessive cytokine response or high viral load during human HPAIV H5N1 infections as assumed previously. These data significantly changes our insight into the pathogenesis of HPAIV H5N1 pneumonia in humans, indicating that other cells than AM must be responsible for the excessive pro-inflammatory cytokine profile observed during HPAIV H5N1 infections.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002099
PMCID: PMC3121882  PMID: 21731493

Results 1-2 (2)