Immune cells can defend against multiple viruses

immune cells can defend against multiple viruses

An underlying virus does not stop the body’s immune system from launching a strong defense against a second, newly introduced virus, according to a study that appears in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

For the study, theresearchers obtained blood samples from patients from India with dengue infection. They then infected these samples with the Zika virus and measured the cells’ immune response using advanced cell-profiling technology. The researchers found that the underlying dengue infection did not stop the cells from launching a robust immune response against the newly introduced Zika virus.

 “The message from our paper is that your innate immune system is ready to launch a very powerful response to a new pathogen,” said \ the paper’s lead author.  

The team tested samples from both dengue patients and healthy controls from India and found that the underlying dengue infection did not impair new immune responses to the Zika virus. Specifically, researchers noted an increase in small proteins called cytokines, which are related to fighting off infection, in 36 individual cell subsets when Zika was introduced.

Elevations in IFNβ were noted in acute patients across the majority of cell types and were statistically elevated in 31 of 36 cell subsets. They quantified response to in vitro (re) infection with dengue or Zika viruses and detected a striking pattern of upregulation of responses to Zika infection by innate cell types which was not noted in response to dengue virus. Significance was discovered by statistical analysis as well as a neural network-based clustering approach which identified unusual cell subsets overlooked by conventional manual gating.

“Patients with acute dengue still had a strong immune response to the Zika virus,” said the senior author. “Their immune response was not diminished.”

These findings provide a much more in-depth look at the body’s response to viruses at the single-cell level, which are consistent with existing literature.

To measure immune response, the team used mass cytometry or CyTOF (Cytometry by Time-of-Flight), a state-of-the-art method for simultaneously revealing multiple components of the responses of distinct immune cell populations. Analysis of the results was done using SAUCIE, a novel deep-learning algorithm developed by a team.
The findings can help guide scientists’ understanding of all emerging infectious diseases, including coronavirus, something the lab is now actively investigating.
“We are set up to investigate human immune cell response to viruses and have several collaborations currently underway to collect samples related to the coronavirus,” the senior author said. “We have containment facilities and excellent virologists at Yale, and there is a lot of activity right now,” the author added.