Expression of CTLA-4 (CD152) in peripheral blood T cells of children with influenza virus infection including encephalopathy in comparison with respiratory syncytial virus infection

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Abstract

SUMMARY

Influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are the most common causes of acute severe respiratory infection in children during the winter. There have been few reports about peripheral blood T cell activation in vivo in influenza virus infection and conflicting results concerning peripheral blood T cells activation in RSV infection. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4, CD152) is a receptor present on T cells that plays a critical role in the down-regulation of antigen-activated immune responses. To clarify the status of peripheral blood T cells, we investigated intracellular CTLA-4 expression in T cells in patients with influenza virus and RSV infection. We collected blood samples from 15 patients with influenza virus infection, including three with complications of influenza virus-associated encephalopathy and 18 patients with RSV infection, as well as 44 healthy children. We determined the intracellular expression of CTLA-4 in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells by flow cytometry. There were no significant differences in the percentages of intracellular CTLA-4-positive CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells by age. The percentages of intracellular CTLA-4-positive CD4+ T cells in the patients with influenza virus infection were significantly higher than those in healthy children (P < 0·01). In particular, the patients with influenza virus-associated encephalopathy had sevenfold higher percentages of CTLA-4-positive CD4+ T cells than influenza patients without encephalopathy (P < 0·05). The patients with influenza virus-associated encephalopathy had increased percentages of CTLA-4-positive CD8+ cells at the acute stage in comparison with the convalescent stage and in control subjects (P < 0·01, respectively). RSV patients showed no increase in CTLA-4-positive CD4+ T cells or CD8+ T cells. The immunological status of peripheral T cell activation is substantially different in influenza virus infection and RSV infection. The patients with RSV infection did not show any increase in CTLA-4-positive peripheral blood T cells. There was a remarkable increase in intracellular CTLA-4 in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in influenza virus-associated encephalopathy. Down-regulation of antigen-activated peripheral blood T cell activation might play an important role in the pathogenesis of influenza virus-associated encephalopathy and host defence against influenza virus infection.

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