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Nat Med. 2009 Mar;15(3):277-84. doi: 10.1038/nm.1929. Epub 2009 Feb 22.

Effector T cells control lung inflammation during acute influenza virus infection by producing IL-10.

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Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Research, University of Virginia, 409 Lane Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


Activated antigen-specific T cells produce a variety of effector molecules for clearing infection but also contribute to inflammation and tissue injury. Here we report an anti-inflammatory property of antiviral CD8+ and CD4+ effector T cells (T(eff) cells) in the infected periphery during acute virus infection. We find that, during acute influenza infection, interleukin-10 (IL-10) is produced in the infected lungs in large amounts--exclusively by infiltrating virus-specific T(eff) cells, with CD8+ T(eff) cells contributing a larger fraction of the IL-10 produced. These T(eff) cells in the periphery simultaneously produce IL-10 and proinflammatory cytokines and express lineage markers characteristic of conventional T helper type 1 or T cytotoxic type 1 cells. Notably, blocking the action of the T(eff) cell-derived IL-10 results in enhanced pulmonary inflammation and lethal injury. Our results show that antiviral T(eff) cells exert regulatory functions--that is, they fine-tune the extent of lung inflammation and injury associated with influenza infection by producing an anti-inflammatory cytokine. We discuss the potential implications of these findings for infection with highly pathogenic influenza viruses.

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