Induction of Innate Immunity against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Infection via Local Delivery of Toll-Like Receptor Ligands Correlates with Beta Interferon Production
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Toll-like receptors (TLRs) constitute a family of innate receptors that recognize and respond to a wide spectrum of microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Previous studies have demonstrated that ligands for TLR3 and TLR9 induce potent innate antiviral responses against herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). However, the factor(s) involved in this innate protection is not well-defined. Here we report that production of beta interferon (IFN-beta) but not production of IFN-alpha, IFN-gamma, or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) strongly correlates with innate protection against HSV-2. Local delivery of poly(I:C) and CpG oligodeoxynucleotides induced significant production of IFN-beta in the genital tract and provided complete protection against intravaginal (IVAG) HSV-2 challenge. There was no detectable IFN-beta in mice treated with ligands for TLR4 or TLR2, and these mice were not protected against subsequent IVAG HSV-2 challenge. There was no correlation between levels of TNF-alpha or IFN-gamma in the genital tract and protection against IVAG HSV-2 challenge following TLR ligand delivery. Both TNF-alpha(-/-) and IFN-gamma(-/-) mice were protected against IVAG HSV-2 challenge following local delivery of poly(I:C). To confirm that type I interferon, particularly IFN-beta, mediates innate protection, mice unresponsive to type I interferons (IFN-alpha/betaR(-/-) mice) and mice lacking IFN regulatory factor-3 (IRF-3(-/-) mice) were treated with poly(I:C) and then challenged with IVAG HSV-2. There was no protection against HSV-2 infection following poly(I:C) treatment of IFN-alpha/betaR(-/-) or IRF-3(-/-) mice. Local delivery of murine recombinant IFN-beta protected C57BL/6 and IRF-3(-/-) mice against IVAG HSV-2 challenge. Results from these in vivo studies clearly suggest a strong correlation between IFN-beta production and innate antiviral immunity against HSV-2.
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