Innate Interferons and Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells constrain Th2 Cytokine Responses to Rhinoviruses: a Regulatory Mechanism with Relevance to Asthma

John W. Upham, Michael L. Carroll, Julie G. Burel, A. L. Pritchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human rhinoviruses (RV) cause only minor illness in healthy individuals, but can have deleterious consequences in people with asthma. This study sought to examine normal homeostatic mechanisms regulating adaptive immunity to RV in healthy humans, focusing on effects of IFN-αβ and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) on Th2 immune responses. PBMC were isolated from 27 healthy individuals and cultured with RV16 for up to 5 d. In some experiments, IFN-αβ was neutralized using a decoy receptor that blocks IFN signaling, whereas specific dendritic cell subsets were depleted from cultures with immune-magnetic beads. RV16 induced robust expression of IFN-α, IFN-β, multiple IFN-stimulated genes, and T cell-polarizing factors within the first 24 h. At 5 d, the production of memory T cell-derived IFN-γ, IL-10, and IL-13, but not IL-17A, was significantly elevated. Neutralizing the effects of type-I IFN with the decoy receptor B18R led to a significant increase in IL-13 synthesis, but had no effect on IFN-γ synthesis. Depletion of pDC from RV-stimulated cultures markedly inhibited IFN-α secretion, and led to a significant increase in expression and production of the Th2 cytokines IL-5 (p = 0.02), IL-9 (p < 0.01), and IL-13 (p < 0.01), but had no effect on IFN-γ synthesis. Depletion of CD1c(+) dendritic cells did not alter cytokine synthesis. In healthy humans, pDC and the IFN-αβ they secrete selectively constrain Th2 cytokine synthesis following RV exposure in vitro. This important regulatory mechanism may be lost in asthma; deficient IFN-αβ synthesis and/or pDC dysfunction have the potential to contribute to asthma exacerbations during RV infections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)AB162-AB162
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2012

Cite this