Viral infection of human lung macrophages increases PDL1 expression via IFNβ

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 16;10(3):e0121527. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121527. eCollection 2015.


Lung macrophages are an important defence against respiratory viral infection and recent work has demonstrated that influenza-induced macrophage PDL1 expression in the murine lung leads to rapid modulation of CD8+ T cell responses via the PD1 receptor. This PD1/PDL1 pathway may downregulate acute inflammatory responses to prevent tissue damage. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of PDL1 regulation by human macrophages in response to viral infection. Ex-vivo viral infection models using influenza and RSV were established in human lung explants, isolated lung macrophages and monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) and analysed by flow cytometry and RT-PCR. Incubation of lung explants, lung macrophages and MDM with X31 resulted in mean cellular infection rates of 18%, 18% and 29% respectively. Viral infection significantly increased cell surface expression of PDL1 on explant macrophages, lung macrophages and MDM but not explant epithelial cells. Infected MDM induced IFNγ release from autologous CD8+ T cells, an effect enhanced by PDL1 blockade. We observed increases in PDL1 mRNA and IFNβ mRNA and protein release by MDM in response to influenza infection. Knockdown of IFNβ by siRNA, resulted in a 37.5% reduction in IFNβ gene expression in response to infection, and a significant decrease in PDL1 mRNA. Furthermore, when MDM were incubated with IFNβ, this cytokine caused increased expression of PDL1 mRNA. These data indicate that human macrophage PDL1 expression modulates CD8+ cell IFNγ release in response to virus and that this expression is regulated by autologous IFNβ production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B7-H1 Antigen / genetics*
  • B7-H1 Antigen / metabolism
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Influenza A virus
  • Interferon-beta / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / virology
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / metabolism*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / virology*
  • Monocytes / metabolism


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interferon-beta