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Intrinsic TNF/TNFR2 Interactions Fine-Tune the CD8 T Cell Response to Respiratory Influenza Virus Infection in Mice

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068911
  • Research Article


TNF is an important inflammatory mediator and a target for intervention. TNF is produced by many cell types and is involved in innate inflammation as well as adaptive immune responses. CD8 T cells produce TNF and can also respond to TNF. Deficiency of TNF or TNFR2 has been shown to affect anti-viral immunity. However, as the complete knockout of TNF or its receptors has effects on multiple cell types as well as on lymphoid architecture, it has been difficult to assess the role of TNF directly on T cells during viral infection. Here we have addressed this issue by analyzing the effect of CD8 T cell intrinsic TNF/TNFR2 interactions during respiratory influenza infection in mice, using an adoptive transfer model in which only the T cells lack TNF or TNFR2. During a mild influenza infection, the capacity of the responding CD8 T cells to produce TNF increases from day 6 through day 12, beyond the time of viral clearance. Although T cell intrinsic TNF is dispensable for initial expansion of CD8 T cells up to day 9 post infection, intrinsic TNF/TNFR2 interactions potentiate contraction of the CD8 T cell response in the lung between day 9 and 12 post infection. On the other hand, TNF or TNFR2-deficient CD8 T cells in the lung express lower levels of IFN-γ and CD107a per cell than their wild type counterparts. Comparison of TNF levels on the TNFR2 positive and negative T cells is consistent with TNF/TNFR2 interactions inducing feedback downregulation of TNF production by T cells, with greater effects in the lung compared to spleen. Thus CD8 T cell intrinsic TNF/TNFR2 interactions fine-tune the response to influenza virus in the lung by modestly enhancing effector functions, but at the same time potentiating the contraction of the CD8 T cell response post-viral clearance.

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