Background: Influenza virus is a cause of substantial annual morbidity and mortality worldwide. The potential emergence of a new pandemic strain (eg, avian influenza virus) is a major concern. Currently available vaccines and anti-influenza drugs have limited effectiveness for influenza virus infections, especially for new pandemic strains. Therefore, there is an acute need to develop alternative strategies for influenza therapy. gammadelta T cells have potent antiviral activities against different viruses, but no data are available concerning their antiviral activity against influenza viruses.
Methods: In this study, we used virus-infected primary human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) to examine the antiviral activity of phosphoantigen isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP)-expanded human Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells against influenza viruses.
Results: Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells were selectively activated and expanded by IPP from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. IPP-expanded Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells efficiently killed MDMs infected with human (H1N1) or avian (H9N2 or H5N1) influenza virus and significantly inhibited viral replication. The cytotoxicity of Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells against influenza virus-infected MDMs was dependent on NKG2D activation and was mediated by Fas-Fas ligand and perforin-granzyme B pathways.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest a potentially novel therapeutic approach to seasonal, zoonotic avian, and pandemic influenza-the use of phosphoantigens to activate gammadelta T cells against influenza virus infections.