Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are innate-like T lymphocytes known to elicit potent immunity to a broad range of bacteria, mainly via the rapid production of inflammatory cytokines. Whether MAIT cells contribute to antiviral immunity is less clear. Here we asked whether MAIT cells produce cytokines/chemokines during severe human influenza virus infection. Our analysis in patients hospitalized with avian H7N9 influenza pneumonia showed that individuals who recovered had higher numbers of CD161+ Vα7.2+ MAIT cells in peripheral blood compared with those who succumbed, suggesting a possible protective role for this lymphocyte population. To understand the mechanism underlying MAIT cell activation during influenza, we cocultured influenza A virus (IAV)-infected human lung epithelial cells (A549) and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro, then assayed them by intracellular cytokine staining. Comparison of influenza-induced MAIT cell activation with the profile for natural killer cells (CD56+ CD3- ) showed robust up-regulation of IFNaγ for both cell populations and granzyme B in MAIT cells, although the individual responses varied among healthy donors. However, in contrast to the requirement for cell-associated factors to promote NK cell activation, the induction of MAIT cell cytokine production was dependent on IL-18 (but not IL-12) production by IAV-exposed CD14+ monocytes. Overall, this evidence for IAV activation via an indirect, IL-18-dependent mechanism indicates that MAIT cells are protective in influenza, and also possibly in any human disease process in which inflammation and IL-18 production occur.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 6 Sep 2016|
- Influenza virus
- Mait cells