Activated macrophages promote hepatitis C virus entry in a tumor necrosis factor-dependent manner.
Fletcher NF., Sutaria R., Jo J., Barnes A., Blahova M., Meredith LW., Cosset F-L., Curbishley SM., Adams DH., Bertoletti A., McKeating JA.
UNLABELLED: Macrophages are critical components of the innate immune response in the liver. Chronic hepatitis C is associated with immune infiltration and the infected liver shows a significant increase in total macrophage numbers; however, their role in the viral life cycle is poorly understood. Activation of blood-derived and intrahepatic macrophages with a panel of Toll-like receptor agonists induce soluble mediators that promote hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry into polarized hepatoma cells. We identified tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) as the major cytokine involved in this process. Importantly, this effect was not limited to HCV; TNF-α increased the permissivity of hepatoma cells to infection by Lassa, measles and vesicular stomatitis pseudoviruses. TNF-α induced a relocalization of tight junction protein occludin and increased the lateral diffusion speed of HCV receptor tetraspanin CD81 in polarized HepG2 cells, providing a mechanism for their increased permissivity to support HCV entry. High concentrations of HCV particles could stimulate macrophages to express TNF-α, providing a direct mechanism for the virus to promote infection. CONCLUSION: This study shows a new role for TNF-α to increase virus entry and highlights the potential for HCV to exploit existing innate immune responses in the liver to promote de novo infection events.