Multiple mechanisms contribute to impairment of type 1 interferon production during chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection of mice.
Lee LN., Burke S., Montoya M., Borrow P.
Type 1 IFNs, innate cytokines with important effector and immunomodulatory properties, are rapidly induced in the acute phase of many virus infections; however, this is generally a transient response that is not sustained during virus persistence. To gain insight into mechanisms that can contribute to down-regulation of type 1 IFN production during virus persistence, we analyzed type 1 IFN production during acute and chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection. High-level type 1 IFN production was transiently up-regulated in cells including plasmacytoid and conventional dendritic cells (DCs) following LCMV infection of mice, but LCMV persistence was associated with only low-level type 1 IFN production. Nonetheless, chronically infected mice were able to up-regulate type 1 IFN production in response to TLR3, 7, and 9 ligands, albeit less efficiently than uninfected mice. Splenic DC numbers in mice chronically infected with LCMV were decreased, and the remaining cells exhibited a reduced response to TLR stimulation. LCMV-infected cell lines efficiently up-regulated type 1 IFN production following TLR ligation and infection with a DNA virus, but exhibited a defect in type 1 IFN induction following infection with Sendai, an RNA virus. This block in type 1 IFN production by infected cells, together with abnormalities in DC numbers and functions, likely contribute to the low-level type 1 IFN production in mice chronically infected with LCMV. Impairment of type 1 IFN production may both promote virus persistence and impact on host immunocompetence. Understanding the mechanisms involved may assist in development of strategies for control of virus persistence and superinfection.