Herpes simplex virus type 1 dysregulates anti-fungal defenses preventing monocyte activation and downregulating toll-like receptor-2

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We investigated the interplay occurring between pathogens in the course of dual infections, using an in vitro model in which the THP-1 monocytic cell line is first infected with HSV-1 and then exposed to Ca or Cn. These three pathogens share some pathogenic features: they cause opportunistic infections, target macrophages and are neurotropic. Here, we show that HSV-1-infected THP-1 cells exhibited augmented phagocytosis against the two opportunistic fungi but reduced capability to counteract fungal infection: the better ingestion by monocytes was followed by facilitated fungal survival and replication. Reduced IL-12 production was also observed. Cytofluorimetric analysis showed that HSV-1-infected monocytes exhibit: (i) downregulated TLR-2 and TLR-4, critical structures in fungal recognition; (ii) reduced expression of CD38 and CD69, known to be important markers of monocyte activation; and (iii) enhanced expression of apoptosis and necrosis markers, in the absence of altered cell proliferation. Overall, these findings imply that HSV-1 infection prevents monocyte activation, thus leading to a significant dysfunction of the monocyte-mediated anti-Candida response; HSV-1 induced apoptosis and necrosis of monocytes further contribute to this impairment.

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