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Immunology. 1997 Sep;92(1):138-45.

Human cytomegalovirus infection up-regulates interleukin-8 gene expression and stimulates neutrophil transendothelial migration.

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Department of Clinical Immunology, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London, UK.


Virus-induced alterations in the cellular expression of chemokines may be important in directing the migration of specific leucocyte subsets to sites of infection, thereby playing a pivotal role in viral pathogenesis. We show here that cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection of human fibroblasts resulted in significantly increased expression of the C-X-C or alpha-chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8), at both the mRNA and protein levels. Increased IL-8 production was seen following infection with the high passage laboratory CMV strains AD169, Towne, or Davis, as well as the low passage clinical CMV isolates Toledo or C1F. The increase in IL-8 production had functional consequences, as demonstrated by the ability of supernatants from CMV-infected fibroblasts to significantly enhance neutrophil transendothelial migration. The latter was independent of alterations in adhesion molecule expression on the endothelial cells, and was abrogated by neutralizing antibodies specific for IL-8. Direct infection of endothelium with the endothelial cell-tropic CMV strain C1FE, also resulted in enhanced neutrophil transendothelial migration. Neutrophils play an important role in the dissemination of CMV throughout the body, and thus CMV-induced neutrophil recruitment would be expected to enhance CMV dissemination. Increased production of chemokines in response to CMV infection could also disrupt the fine balance between a beneficial and a destructive immune response, thereby potentially contributing to pathology.

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