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J Immunol. 2011 Nov 1;187(9):4581-8. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002241. Epub 2011 Sep 21.

The magnitude of the T cell response to a clinically significant dose of influenza virus is regulated by TRAIL.

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Department of Urology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


An immune response of appropriate magnitude should be robust enough to control pathogen spread but not simultaneously lead to immunopathology. Primary infection with influenza A virus (IAV) results in a localized pulmonary infection and inflammation and elicits an IAV-specific CD8 T cell immune response necessary for viral clearance. Clearance of IAV-infected cells, and recovery from infection, is mediated by perforin/granzyme B- and Fas/FasL-mediated mechanisms. We recently reported that TRAIL is another means by which IAV-specific CD8 T cells can kill IAV-infected cells. The current study examined the role of TRAIL in the pulmonary CD8 T cell response to a clinically significant IAV [A/PR/8/34 (PR8; H1N1)] infection (i.e., leads to observable, but limited, morbidity and mortality in wild-type [WT] mice). Compared with WT mice, IAV-infected Trail(-/-) mice experienced increased morbidity and mortality despite similar rates of viral clearance from the lungs. The increased morbidity and mortality in Trail(-/-) mice correlated with increased pulmonary pathology and inflammatory chemokine production. Analysis of lung-infiltrating lymphocytes revealed increased numbers of IAV-specific CD8 T cells in infected Trail(-/-) mice, which correlated with increased pulmonary cytotoxic activity and increased pulmonary expression of MIG and MIP-1α. In addition, there was decreased apoptosis and increased proliferation of IAV-specific CD8 T cells in the lungs of Trail(-/-) mice compared with WT mice. Together, these data suggest that TRAIL regulates the magnitude of the IAV-specific CD8 T cell response during a clinically significant IAV infection to decrease the chance for infection-induced immunopathology.

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