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Role of Fc-receptors in interferon-alpha responses of natural interferon producing cells

Natural interferon producing cells (NIPC), also called plasmacytoid dendritic cells, are the most potent producers of IFN-a in response to viral and bacterial components, serving an important function in innate immune defences. The present work demonstrates that NIPC responsiveness can be primed by immunisation, increasing their capacity to produce IFN-a after virus infection. NIPC isolated from pigs immunised against classical swine fever virus (CSFV) are more receptive to virus infection and produced higher levels of IFN-a than immunologically naive animals. This FcgRII-dependent sensitisation of NIPC was maintained at least for eight months after immunisation. These results demonstrate that NIPC do not only represent a major player in innate immunity but are also functionally linked to the immunological memory of the adaptive immune system.

These findings are important regarding the role of type I IFN in the limitation of virus production and spreading. Increasing the sensitivity of potent IFN-a producers such as NIPC, in combination with induction of specific immune defences, could be a novel target in the design of vaccines against virus infections.

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