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Immunity. 2007 Aug;27(2):240-52.

Alveolar macrophages are the primary interferon-alpha producer in pulmonary infection with RNA viruses.

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Department of Host Defense, Research Institute for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University, 3-1 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


Type I interferons (IFNs) are critical for antiviral responses. Here we generated a knockin mouse in which green fluorescence protein (GFP) was expressed under the control of the Ifna6 promoter. Virus-induced expression of GFP recapitulated various IFN-alpha subtypes. Systemic infection of the mice with Newcastle disease virus (NDV) increased GFP(+) plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) via the Toll-like receptor system, and GFP(+) conventional dendritic cells (cDCs) and macrophages via the RIG-I-like helicase system. By contrast, lung infection with NDV led to IFN-alpha production in alveolar macrophages (AMs) and cDCs, but not in pDCs. Specific depletion of AMs caused a marked defect in the initial viral elimination in the lung. pDCs produced IFN-alpha in the absence of AM-mediated viral recognition, suggesting that pDCs function when the first defense line is broken. Thus, AMs act as a type I IFN producer that is important for the initial responses to viral infection in the lung.

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