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J Virol. May 1984; 50(2): 287–292.
PMCID: PMC255619

Influenza virus-induced immune complexes suppress alveolar macrophage phagocytosis.


Immune complexes in the lungs are capable of inducing adverse responses. Herein we have detailed the formation of immune complexes in the lungs of influenza virus-infected mice and examined their effect on alveolar macrophage defenses. On days 3, 7, 10, 15, and 30 after aerosol infection with influenza A/PR8/34 virus, the acellular pulmonary lavage fluid was tested for viral antigen, specific viral antibody, and immune complexes by immunoassays. Whereas peak viral antigen (day 3) diminished to undetectable levels by day 10, specific viral antibody remained at a low concentration until day 10, after which it rapidly increased. Immune complex concentrations increased through day 7, peaked at day 10, and gradually returned to the control level by day 30. These data demonstrate that immune complexes of detectable size are induced by influenza virus infection during the interface between antigen excess and antibody excess conditions. Since alveolar macrophages are the pivotal phagocytic defense cells in the lung, the ability of normal alveolar macrophages to ingest opsonized erythrocytes was quantitated in the presence of immune complexes from lavage fluid. Immune complexes from day 10 virus-infected lungs caused a dose-dependent suppression of antibody-mediated phagocytosis to 30% of control values. In contrast, although these immune complexes also markedly decreased the phagocytosis of antibody-coated yeast cells, they did not significantly impair the antibody-independent ingestion of unopsonized yeast cells by macrophages. the suppressive effects of immune complexes on alveolar macrophages may, in part, explain the phagocytic dysfunction that occurs 7 to 10 days after influenza virus pneumonia.

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Selected References

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