Neuroimmune responses in viral infection
AuthorLoi, Joon Keit
AffiliationMicrobiology & Immunology
Document TypePhD thesis
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© 2020 Joon Keit Loi
The regulation of the immune responses is important in maintaining good health. Interactions between the nervous and immune systems are increasingly studied and widely appreciated to be influential in orchestrating immune responses. T cells express adrenergic receptors (AR) that enable them to respond to neurotransmitters produced by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), noradrenaline (NA) and adrenaline, inducing downstream signalling and modulating cell functions, although whether this is stimulatory or inhibitory in T cell antiviral responses is unclear. In this thesis, I examine the effects of SNS in various models of viral infection through chemical sympathectomy and treatment with AR agonists. Modulation of sympathetic signals in systemic infections with LCMV had minor influences on T cell responses but resulted in increased viral loads. Notably, the infection results in a loss of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) positive sympathetic fibres in the spleen as early as day 3 post infection and is reflected by decreased NA splenic NA. The immune response may play a role with interferon g partially contributing to the depletion. Additionally, this thesis also investigates the capability of long-lasting resident memory T cell (TRM) responses in the highly innervated, immune-privileged cornea. Using a model of herpes infection of the cornea, I showed that T cells are effectively recruited to the cornea with a small heterogenous population able to persist following cessation of immune responses. These cells express CD69 and CD103, canonical markers of tissue residency, to varying degrees. Persistence, but not recruitment, of these cells is dependent on antigen availability at the cornea. These memory cells are capable of responding to secondary encounters with antigen. Moreover, circulating memory cells are also able to infiltrate the immune-privileged cornea more efficiently following infection. Together, these results highlight the important nuances in the regulation of immune responses by the nervous system.
Keywordsimmunology; sympathetic nervous system; infection; neuroimmunology; adrenoceptor; memory
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