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Exp Cell Res. 1997 Aug 1;234(2):249-58.

Characterization of influenza virus-induced death of J774.1 macrophages.

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Radiation Pathophysiology and Toxicology Department, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20889-5603, USA.


The mechanism and role of influenza virus (IV)-induced pathogenesis of macrophages during respiratory infection are ill defined. Reported here are findings on IV-induced cytopathic effects (CPEs) for an in vitro experimental system using the murine macrophage cell line J774.1. CPE was elicited by 0.2 or greater multiplicity of infection (m.o.i.). CPEs showed a lag of 6-8 h postinfection and occurred most rapidly between 6 and 12 h. J774.1 cells did not support productive IV replication, but immunofluorescence demonstrated that IV protein synthesis occurred. Light microscopy and DNA staining showed that after death cells had very condensed cytoplasm and nuclei. Cell remnants were surrounded by intact plasma membrane (PM) as demonstrated by exclusion of a membrane-impermeant dye. Time-lapse video microscopy recordings between 6 and 10 h postinfection showed sequential structural changes, including previously undescribed events. Notable changes were a rapid cytokinesis (zeiosis; "cell boiling"), followed by nuclear shrinkage, and an unusual transient blebbing of the PM. DNA fragmentation occurred after 12 h, producing a wide size range. UV-inactivated virus failed to induce CPEs, and CPE was blocked by amantadine. N-Acetylcysteine and pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate, but not other inhibitors of reactive oxygen intermediates, reduced or blocked the CPE. Most changes observed are those attributed to apoptotic processes rather than necrotic cell death. The kinetics and inhibitor effects suggest that IV infection and replication must be initiated to activate CPEs.

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