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J Infect Dis. 2016 Mar 15;213(6):904-14. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiv380. Epub 2015 Jul 22.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Efficiently Infects Human Primary T Lymphocytes and Activates the Extrinsic and Intrinsic Apoptosis Pathways.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases Department of Microbiology Research Centre of Infection and Immunology Carol Yu Centre for Infection.
2
Department of Microbiology.
3
Department of Surgery, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
4
Institute of Laboratory Animal Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
5
State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases Department of Microbiology Research Centre of Infection and Immunology Carol Yu Centre for Infection Collaborative Innovation Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, Zhejiang University, China.

Abstract

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is associated with a mortality rate of >35%. We previously showed that MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) could infect human macrophages and dendritic cells and induce cytokine dysregulation. Here, we further investigated the interplay between human primary T cells and MERS-CoV in disease pathogenesis. Importantly, our results suggested that MERS-CoV efficiently infected T cells from the peripheral blood and from human lymphoid organs, including the spleen and the tonsil. We further demonstrated that MERS-CoV infection induced apoptosis in T cells, which involved the activation of both the extrinsic and intrinsic apoptosis pathways. Remarkably, immunostaining of spleen sections from MERS-CoV-infected common marmosets demonstrated the presence of viral nucleoprotein in their CD3(+) T cells. Overall, our results suggested that the unusual capacity of MERS-CoV to infect T cells and induce apoptosis might partly contribute to the high pathogenicity of the virus.

KEYWORDS:

MERS-CoV; T lymphocytes; apoptosis; caspase; marmosets; spleen; tonsil

PMID:
26203058
DOI:
10.1093/infdis/jiv380
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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