The distinctive features of influenza virus infection of dendritic cells

Armin Bender, Matthew Albert, Anita Reddy, Mary Feldman, Birthe Sauter, Gilla Kaplan, Wilhelmine Hellman, Nina Bhardwaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


CD8+ cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are considered to be critical mediators for resistance to influenza virus infection. We have previously demonstrated that dendritic cells are potent antigen presenting cells in the development of anti-influenza CTLs. Here we identify distinctive features of the interaction of influenza virus with dendritic cells. Exposure of dendritic cells to influenza virus at MOIs of 2-4:1 leads to > 90% infection, as manifested by the expression of the viral proteins HA and NS1. The infection is non-toxic as viral protein expression is sustained for > 2 days with retention of viablility, but little infectious virus is produced. Substantial induction of the anti-viral cytokine IFN-α also occurs. Influenza infection of macrophages also results in viral protein expression in a majority of cells, and synthesis of IFN-α. In contrast to dendritic cells, macrophages display evidence of apoptosis within 10-12 hours, and the majority of cells die within 24-36 hours. During this interval macrophages synthesize > 10-fold higher levels of virus than dendritic cells. Infected dendritic cells but not macrophages, can induce substantial CTL responses from purified blood CD8+ T cells in the absence of exogenous cytokines such as IL-2. Low levels of infection (MOIs of 0.02) are sufficient to generate potent CTL responses. Influenza virus expressing non-cleaved HA does not elicit CTLs indicating that virus must access the cytoplasm of dendritic cells to utilize traditional class I processing pathways. These observations indicate that DCs are distinct in their handling of influenza virus and for the induction of anti-viral immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-567
Number of pages16
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes


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