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Viral Immunol. 2010 Feb;23(1):29-41. doi: 10.1089/vim.2009.0078.

Loss of plasmacytoid dendritic cell function coincides with lymphopenia and viremia during foot-and-mouth disease virus infection.

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Plum Island Animal Disease Center , Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Greenport, New York 11944-0848, USA.

Erratum in

  • Viral Immunol. 2010 Jun;23(3):339.


Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) causes an acute, highly contagious disease of livestock. Though FMDV is very sensitive to interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha), IFN-beta, and IFN-gamma, the virus has evolved mechanisms to evade such innate responses. For instance, during acute infection, FMDV suppresses IFN-alpha production by skin and myeloid dendritic cells (DCs). We have previously reported that FMDV infection induces a transient lymphopenia and interruption of T-lymphocyte responses to mitogenic stimuli. To further understand the immunopathogenesis of FMD, we have now analyzed the serum IFN-alpha response in relation to lymphopenia, and the number and function of plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) following infection of pigs with multiple serotypes of FMDV. Serum IFN-alpha peaked 2-3 d post-infection (PI), regardless of FMDV serotype. Lymphopenia coincided with peak viremia and the serum IFN-alpha response. Circulating pDC numbers and in-vitro pDC IFN-alpha secretion transiently declined by 48 h following infection. Infection of lymphocytes or pDCs was never detected regardless of the FMDV serotype inoculated or the age of the animal infected. These data indicate that, like other DC subsets, there is suppression of interferon production by pDCs, which abrogates this important innate response. Rapid induction of serum IFN-alpha, albeit short-lived, may contribute to the rapid resolution of FMDV viremia prior to induction of specific immunity.

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