Characterization of the Impact of Oncolytic Vesicular Stomatitis Virus on the Trafficking, Phenotype, and Antigen Presentation Potential of Neutrophils and Their Ability to Acquire a Non-Structural Viral Protein Academic Article uri icon

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  • Neutrophils are innate leukocytes that mount a rapid response to invading pathogens and sites of inflammation. Although neutrophils were traditionally considered responders to bacterial infections, recent advances have demonstrated that they are interconnected with both viral infections and cancers. One promising treatment strategy for cancers is to administer an oncolytic virus to activate the immune system and directly lyse cancerous cells. A detailed characterization of how the innate immune system responds to a viral-based therapy is paramount in identifying its systemic effects. This study analyzed how administering the rhabdovirus vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) intravenously at 1 × 109 PFU acutely influenced neutrophil populations. Bone marrow, blood, lungs, and spleen were acquired three- and 24-h after administration of VSV for analysis of neutrophils by flow cytometry. Infection with VSV caused neutrophils to rapidly egress from the bone marrow and accumulate in the lungs. A dramatic increase in immature neutrophils was observed in the lungs, as was an increase in the antigen presentation potential of these cells within the spleen. Furthermore, the potential for neutrophils to acquire viral transgene-encoded proteins was monitored using a variant of VSV that expressed enhanced green fluorescent protein (GFP). If an in vitro population of splenocytes were exposed to αCD3 and αCD28, a substantial proportion of the neutrophils would become GFP-positive. This suggested that the neutrophils could either acquire more virus-encoded antigens from infected splenocytes or were being directly infected. Five different dosing regimens were tested in mice, and it was determined that a single dose of VSV or two doses of VSV administered at a 24-h interval, resulted in a substantial proportion of neutrophils in the bone marrow becoming GFP-positive. This correlated with a decrease in the number of splenic neutrophils. Two doses administered at intervals longer than 24-h did not have these effects, suggesting that neutrophils became resistant to antigen uptake or direct infection with VSV beyond 24-h of activation. These findings implicated neutrophils as major contributors to oncolytic rhabdoviral therapies. They also provide several clear future directions for research and suggest that neutrophils should be carefully monitored during the development of all oncolytic virus-based treatment regimens.


  • Stegelmeier, Ashley A
  • Chan, Lily
  • Mehrani, Yeganeh
  • Petrik, James
  • Wootton, Sarah K
  • Bridle, Byram
  • Karimi, Khalil

publication date

  • September 1, 2020