Blockade of Chronic Type I Interferon Signaling to Control Persistent LCMV Infection

Science  12 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6129, pp. 202-207
DOI: 10.1126/science.1235208

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INTERFER(ON)ing Persistence

During persistent viral infections, a dysregulated immune response fails to control the infection. Wilson et al. (p. 202) and Teijaro et al. (p. 207; see the Perspective by Odorizzi and Wherry) show this occurs because type I interferons (IFN I), critical for early responses to viral infection, contribute to the altered immunity seen during persistent infection. Antibody blockade of IFN I signaling during chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) in mice resulted in reduced viral titers at later stages of infection, reduced expression of inhibitory immune molecules and prevented the disruptions to secondary lymphoid organs typically observed during persistent infection with LCMV. Whether type I IFNs are also detrimental to persistent viral infection humans, such as HIV and hepatitis C virus, remains to be determined.


Type I interferons (IFN-I) are critical for antiviral immunity; however, chronic IFN-I signaling is associated with hyperimmune activation and disease progression in persistent infections. We demonstrated in mice that blockade of IFN-I signaling diminished chronic immune activation and immune suppression, restored lymphoid tissue architecture, and increased immune parameters associated with control of virus replication, ultimately facilitating clearance of the persistent infection. The accelerated control of persistent infection induced by blocking IFN-I signaling required CD4 T cells and was associated with enhanced IFN-γ production. Thus, we demonstrated that interfering with chronic IFN-I signaling during persistent infection redirects the immune environment to enable control of infection.

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