Effector T cells control lung inflammation during acute influenza virus infection by producing IL-10

Nat Med. 2009 Mar;15(3):277-84. doi: 10.1038/nm.1929. Epub 2009 Feb 22.


Activated antigen-specific T cells produce a variety of effector molecules for clearing infection but also contribute to inflammation and tissue injury. Here we report an anti-inflammatory property of antiviral CD8+ and CD4+ effector T cells (T(eff) cells) in the infected periphery during acute virus infection. We find that, during acute influenza infection, interleukin-10 (IL-10) is produced in the infected lungs in large amounts--exclusively by infiltrating virus-specific T(eff) cells, with CD8+ T(eff) cells contributing a larger fraction of the IL-10 produced. These T(eff) cells in the periphery simultaneously produce IL-10 and proinflammatory cytokines and express lineage markers characteristic of conventional T helper type 1 or T cytotoxic type 1 cells. Notably, blocking the action of the T(eff) cell-derived IL-10 results in enhanced pulmonary inflammation and lethal injury. Our results show that antiviral T(eff) cells exert regulatory functions--that is, they fine-tune the extent of lung inflammation and injury associated with influenza infection by producing an anti-inflammatory cytokine. We discuss the potential implications of these findings for infection with highly pathogenic influenza viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Dogs
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis*
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Pneumonia / immunology
  • Pneumonia / prevention & control*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Interleukin-10