Background & aims: Rotavirus, an important agent of gastroenteritis in children, causes diarrhea by infecting differentiated villus enterocytes in the small intestine. The aim of this study was to determine whether cytokines that can be expressed by mucosal cells have an effect on the rotavirus susceptibility of cultured human enterocytes.
Methods: Caco-2 and HT-29 cells were pretreated with various cytokines before challenge with rotavirus.
Results: Interleukin (IL)-1, interferon (IFN)-alpha, and IFN-gamma pretreatment led to a dose-dependent resistance to rotavirus infection. Maximum effects occurred after 72 hours of pretreatment, whereas no detectable inhibition occurred with <12 hours of pretreatment. Liposomal transfection of single-shelled and double-shelled rotavirus particles bypassed the block to rotavirus replication in IFN-gamma- and IL-1-treated but not IFN-alpha-treated cells. Binding studies with purified, metabolically labeled rotavirus showed no significant difference among IFN-gamma- and IFN-alpha-treated and control Caco-2 cells. Viral entry into Caco-2 cells was significantly inhibited by IFN-gamma and IL-1 but not IFN-alpha.
Conclusions: IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma induce rotavirus resistance by different mechanisms, suggesting that cytokines play a role in host defense against viral agents by changing the phenotype of intestinal epithelial cells.