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Nat Commun. 2018 Nov 9;9(1):4706. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07207-9.

MAIT cells contribute to protection against lethal influenza infection in vivo.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3000, Australia.
2
Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research and Translational Gastroenterology Unit, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 3SY, UK.
3
ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3010, Australia.
4
Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research and Translational Gastroenterology Unit, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 3SY, UK. paul.klenerman@medawar.ox.ac.uk.
5
Respiratory Medicine Unit, Nuffield Department of Medicine, Experimental Medicine Division, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 9DU, UK.

Abstract

Mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are evolutionarily-conserved, innate-like lymphocytes which are abundant in human lungs and can contribute to protection against pulmonary bacterial infection. MAIT cells are also activated during human viral infections, yet it remains unknown whether MAIT cells play a significant protective or even detrimental role during viral infections in vivo. Using murine experimental challenge with two strains of influenza A virus, we show that MAIT cells accumulate and are activated early in infection, with upregulation of CD25, CD69 and Granzyme B, peaking at 5 days post-infection. Activation is modulated via cytokines independently of MR1. MAIT cell-deficient MR1-/- mice show enhanced weight loss and mortality to severe (H1N1) influenza. This is ameliorated by prior adoptive transfer of pulmonary MAIT cells in both immunocompetent and immunodeficient RAG2-/-γC-/- mice. Thus, MAIT cells contribute to protection during respiratory viral infections, and constitute a potential target for therapeutic manipulation.

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