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J Virol. 2018 Jun 13;92(13). pii: e00377-18. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00377-18. Print 2018 Jul 1.

CD4 T Cell Epitope Specificity and Cytokine Potential Are Preserved as Cells Transition from the Lung Vasculature to Lung Tissue following Influenza Virus Infection.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, D. H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, D. H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, USA


Pulmonary CD4 T cells are critical in respiratory virus control, both by delivering direct effector function and through coordinating responses of other immune cells. Recent studies have shown that following influenza virus infection, virus-specific CD4 T cells are partitioned between pulmonary vasculature and lung tissue. However, very little is known about the peptide specificity or functional differences of CD4 T cells within these two compartments. Using a mouse model of influenza virus infection in conjunction with intravascular labeling in vivo, the cell surface phenotype, epitope specificity, and functional potential of the endogenous polyclonal CD4 T cell response was examined by tracking nine independent CD4 T cell epitope specificities. These studies revealed that tissue-localized CD4 cells were globally distinct from vascular cells in expression of markers associated with transendothelial migration, residency, and micropositioning. Despite these differences, there was little evidence for remodeling of the viral epitope specificity or cytokine potential as cells transition from vasculature to the highly inflamed lung tissue. Our studies also distinguished cells in the pulmonary vasculature from peripheral circulating CD4 T cells, providing support for the concept that the pulmonary vasculature does not simply reflect circulating cells that are trapped within the narrow confines of capillary vessels but rather is enriched in transitional cells primed in the draining lymph node that have specialized potential to enter the lung tissue.IMPORTANCE CD4 T cells convey a multitude of functions in immunity to influenza, including those delivered in the lymph node and others conveyed by CD4 T cells that leave the lymph node, enter the blood, and extravasate into the lung tissue. Here, we show that the transition of recently primed CD4 cells detected in the lung vasculature undergo profound changes in expression of markers associated with tissue localization as they establish residence in the lung. However, this transition does not edit CD4 T cell epitope specificity or the cytokine potential of the CD4 T cells. Thus, CD4 T cells that enter the infected lung can convey diverse functions and have a sufficiently broad viral antigen specificity to detect the complex array of infected cells within the infected tissue, offering the potential for more effective protective function.


CD4 T cell; influenza; lung; specificity

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