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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46581. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046581. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Influenza-infected neutrophils within the infected lungs act as antigen presenting cells for anti-viral CD8(+) T cells.

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Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Research, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.


Influenza A virus (IAV) is a leading cause of respiratory tract disease worldwide. Anti-viral CD8(+) T lymphocytes responding to IAV infection are believed to eliminate virally infected cells by direct cytolysis but may also contribute to pulmonary inflammation and tissue damage via the release of pro-inflammatory mediators following recognition of viral antigen displaying cells. We have previously demonstrated that IAV antigen expressing inflammatory cells of hematopoietic origin within the infected lung interstitium serve as antigen presenting cells (APC) for infiltrating effector CD8(+) T lymphocytes; however, the spectrum of inflammatory cell types capable of serving as APC was not determined. Here, we demonstrate that viral antigen displaying neutrophils infiltrating the IAV infected lungs are an important cell type capable of acting as APC for effector CD8(+) T lymphocytes in the infected lungs and that neutrophils expressing viral antigen as a result of direct infection by IAV exhibit the most potent APC activity. Our findings suggest that in addition to their suggested role in induction of the innate immune responses to IAV, virus clearance, and the development of pulmonary injury, neutrophils can serve as APCs to anti-viral effector CD8(+) T cells within the infected lung interstitium.

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