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Cell Mol Immunol. 2011 Mar;8(2):181-8. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2010.84. Epub 2011 Feb 14.

IFN-α production by human mononuclear cells infected with varicella-zoster virus through TLR9-dependent and -independent pathways.

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Department of Pediatrics, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung Medical Center, Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Science, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taiwan.


Understanding the defense mechanisms of the host of an organism is important for infection control. In previous studies, we demonstrated that interferon-α (IFN-α), but not IL-12, was produced by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells infected with varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Here, we investigated what kind of cell(s) and which signal molecule(s) are involved in IFN-α production. Using cell isolation and ELISA, we found that plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) were responsible for IFN-α production during VZV infection. We also found that Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) was involved in VZV-induced IFN-α production because inhibitory CpG oligodeoxynucleotide inhibited IFN-α production. UV-inactivated VZV-induced IFN-α production was lower than that of active VZV, indicating another TLR9-independent pathway. Further studies demonstrated that double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase, but not DNA-dependent protein kinase was involved in VZV-induced IFN-α production. Together, these results suggest that pDCs play an important role in IFN-α production during VZV infection through TLR9-dependent and -independent pathways.

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