Virology, Nebraska Center for


Date of this Version



JVI Accepts, published online ahead of print on 25 July 2012

Journal of Virology, doi:10.1128/JVI.01402-12


Copyright © 2012, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


During Theiler’s virus (TMEV) infection of macrophages it is thought that high IL-6 levels contribute to demyelinating disease found in chronically infected SJL/J mice but absent in B10.S mice capable of clearing the infection. Therefore, IL-6 expression was measured in TMEV-susceptible SJL/J and TMEV-resistant B10.S macrophages during their infection with TMEV DA strain or responses to LPS or poly I:C. Unexpectedly, IL-6 production was greater in B10.S macrophages than SJL/J macrophages during the first 24 h after stimulation with TMEV, LPS or poly I:C. Further experiments showed that in B10.S, SJL/J, and RAW264.7 macrophage cells, IL-6 expression was dependent on extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and enhanced by exogenous IL-12. In SJL/J and RAW264.7 macrophages, exogenous IL-6 resulted in decreased TMEV replication, earlier activation of STAT1 and STAT3, production of nitric oxide, and earlier up-regulation of several anti-viral genes downstream of STAT1. However, neither inhibition of IL-6-induced nitric oxide nor knockdown of STAT1 diminished the early anti-viral effect of exogenous IL-6. In addition, neutralization of endogenous IL-6 from SJL/J macrophages with Fab antibodies did not exacerbate early TMEV infection. Therefore, endogenous IL-6 expression after TMEV infection is dependent on ERK MAPK, enhanced by IL-12, but too slow to decrease viral replication during early infection. In contrast, exogenous IL-6 enhances macrophage control of TMEV infection through preemptive anti-viral nitric oxide production and anti-viral STAT1 activation. These results indicate that immediate early production of IL-6 could protect macrophages from TMEV infection.

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