Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Virol. 2008 Sep;82(18):8956-64. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01118-08. Epub 2008 Jul 16.

Tumor necrosis factor alpha protects against lethal West Nile virus infection by promoting trafficking of mononuclear leukocytes into the central nervous system.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Box 8051, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


West Nile virus (WNV) is a neurotropic flavivirus that has emerged globally as a significant cause of viral encephalitis in humans, especially in immunocompromised individuals. Previous studies have shown essential protective roles for antiviral cytokines (e.g., alpha interferon [IFN-alpha] and IFN-gamma) against WNV in mice. However, studies using cell culture offer conflicting answers regarding whether tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) has an anti-WNV function. To test the biological significance of TNF-alpha against WNV in vivo, experiments were performed with TNF receptor-1 (TNF-R1)-deficient and TNF-alpha-depleted C57BL/6 mice. TNF-R1(-/-) mice had enhanced mortality and decreased survival time after WNV infection compared to congenic wild-type mice. Consistent with this, administration of a neutralizing anti-TNF-alpha monoclonal antibody also decreased survival after WNV infection. Relatively small differences in viral burdens in peripheral tissues of TNF-R1(-/-) mice were observed, and this occurrence correlated with a modest antiviral effect of TNF-alpha on primary macrophages but not dendritic cells. In contrast, the viral titers detected in the central nervous systems of TNF-R1(-/-) mice were significantly increased compared to those of wild-type mice, although TNF-alpha did not have a direct antiviral effect in primary neuron cultures. Whereas no defect in priming of adaptive B- and T-cell responses in TNF-R1(-/-) mice was observed, there were significant reductions in accumulations of CD8+ T cells and macrophages in the brain. Our data are most consistent with a model in which interaction of TNF-alpha with TNF-R1 protects against WNV infection by regulating migration of protective inflammatory cells into the brain during acute infection.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk