Neurons produce type I interferon during viral encephalitis

S. Delhaye, S. Paul, Gjon Blakqori, M. Minet, F. Weber, P. Staeheli, T. Michiels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

217 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Type I interferons, also referred to as IFN-alpha/beta, form the first line of defense against viral infections. Major IFN-alpha/beta producers in the periphery are the plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). Constitutive expression of the IFN regulatory factor (IRF)-7 enables pDCs to rapidly synthesize large amounts of IFN-alpha/beta after viral infection. In the central nervous system (CNS), pDCs are considered to be absent from the parenchyma, and little is known about the cells producing IFN-alpha/beta. The study presented here aimed to identify the cells producing IFN-alpha/beta in the CNS in vivo after infection by neurotropic viruses such as Theiler's virus and La Crosse virus. No cells with high constitutive expression of IRF-7 were detected in the CNS of uninfected mice, suggesting the absence of cells equivalent to pDCs. Upon viral infection, IFN-beta and some subtypes of IFN-alpha, but not IFN-epsilon or IFN-kappa, were transcriptionally up-regulated. IFN-alpha/beta was predominantly produced by scattered parenchymal cells and much less by cells of inflammatory foci. Interestingly, in addition to some macrophages and ependymal cells, neurons turned out to be important producers of both IFN-alpha and IFN-beta. However, only 3% of the infected neurons produced IFN-alpha/beta, suggesting that some restriction to IFN-alpha/beta production existed in these cells. All CNS cell types analyzed, including neurons, were able to respond to type I IFN by producing Mx or IRF-7. Our data show that, in vivo, neurons take an active part to the antiviral defense by being both IFN-alpha/beta producers and responders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7835-40
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume103
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2006

Keywords

  • NONSTRUCTURAL PROTEIN NSS
  • CENTRAL-NERVOUS-SYSTEM
  • DENDRITIC CELLS
  • ALPHA/BETA INTERFERON
  • THEILERS VIRUS
  • MULTIPLE-SCLEROSIS
  • BRAIN-TISSUES
  • EXPRESSION
  • INDUCTION
  • INFECTION

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