Author(s): Larochelle B, Flamand L, Gourde P, Beauchamp D, Gosselin J
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Abstract The role of neutrophils during Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is not known. Disruption of the initial and nonspecific immune response may favor the spread of EBV infection. We have previously shown that EBV interacts with human neutrophils and modulates protein expression. In this study we have investigated the ability of EBV to infect neutrophils. Electron microscopy studies showed penetration of virus and its subsequent localization to the nucleus. The presence of viral genomes in isolated nuclei from neutrophils was also shown by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Expression of viral transcripts like EBNA-2 (Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen-2) and ZEBRA (BamHI Z EBV replication activator) was not detected by reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR, suggesting that EBV does not seem to establish a latent or a lytic infection in neutrophils. However, at 20 hours post-EBV infection, 77\% of cells were apoptotic as compared to 22\% in uninfected cell cultures, as evaluated by flow cytometry. This EBV-induced apoptosis was prevented by the addition of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor to the cell cultures. Apoptotic cell death seems to implicate the Fas/Fas ligand (L) pathway, as reflected by an increase of Fas/Fas L expression on neutrophils treated with EBV and an increase of soluble Fas L, which may function in an autocrine/paracrine pathway to mediate cell death. Lastly, EBV genome was detected from neutrophils of infectious mononucleosis (IM) patients in contrast to neutrophils obtained from healthy EBV-seropositive donors. Our findings on the interactions of EBV with neutrophils will then provide new insights on the immunosuppressive effects associated with EBV infection.
This article was published in Blood
and referenced in Journal of Infectious Diseases & Preventive Medicine