The dendritic and T cell responses to herpes simplex virus-1 are modulated by dietary vitamin E

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Previous studies from our laboratory have shown that dietary α-tocopherol (vitamin E, or VE) is essential for regulating the cytokine and chemokine response in the brain to herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) infection. The timing of T cell infiltration is critical to the resolution of central nervous system HSV-1 infections. Specifically, the appearance of “neuroprotective” CD8+IFN-γ+ T cells is crucial. During CNS infection, CD8+ T cell priming and expansion in the draining lymph node, followed by recruitment and expansion, occurs in the spleen with subsequent accumulation in the brain. Weanling male BALB/cByJ mice were placed on VE-deficient (Def) or -adequate diets for 4 weeks followed by intranasal infection with HSV-1. VE-Def mice had fewer CD8+IFN-γ+ T cells trafficking to the brain despite increased CD8+IFN-γ+ T cells and activated dendritic cells in the periphery. VE-Def mice had increased T regulatory cells (Tregs) in the periphery and brain, and the increase in Tregs decreased CD8+ T cell numbers in the brain. Our results demonstrate that adequate levels of VE are important for trafficking antigen-specific T cells to the brain, and dietary VE levels modulate T regulatory and dendritic cells in the periphery.

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