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PLoS One. 2009 Jul 1;4(7):e6105. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006105.

Lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus induces systemic lymphocyte activation via TLR7-dependent IFNalpha responses by plasmacytoid dendritic cells.

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Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT, USA.



Lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus (LDV) is a natural infectious agent of mice. Like several other viruses, LDV causes widespread and very rapid but transient activation of both B cells and T cells in lymphoid tissues and the blood. The mechanism of this activation has not been fully described and is the focus of the current studies.


A known inducer of early lymphocyte activation is IFNalpha, a cytokine strongly induced by LDV infection. Neutralization of IFNalpha in the plasma from infected mice ablated its ability to activate lymphocytes in vitro. Since the primary source of virus-induced IFNalpha in vivo is often plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC's), we depleted these cells prior to LDV infection and tested for lymphocyte activation. Depletion of pDC's in vivo eradicated both the LDV-induced IFNalpha response and lymphocyte activation. A primary receptor in pDC's for single stranded RNA viruses such as LDV is the toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) pattern recognition receptor. Infection of TLR7-knockout mice revealed that both the IFNalpha response and lymphocyte activation were dependent on TLR7 signaling in vivo. Interestingly, virus levels in both TLR7 knockout mice and pDC-depleted mice were indistinguishable from controls indicating that LDV is largely resistant to the systemic IFNalpha response.


Results indicate that LDV-induced activation of lymphocytes is due to recognition of LDV nucleic acid by TLR7 pattern recognition receptors in pDC's that respond with a lymphocyte-inducing IFNalpha response.

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