Background: The low immunogenicity of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) coupled with negligible expression of MHC antigens has popularized their use in transplantation medicine. However, in an inflammatory environment, the NSPCs express costimulatory molecules and MHC antigens, and also exhibit certain immunomodulatory functions. Since NSPCs are the cellular targets in a number of virus infections both during postnatal and adult stages, we wanted to investigate the immunological properties of these stem cells in response to viral pathogen. Methodology/Principal Findings: We utilized both in vivo mouse model and in vitro neurosphere model of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) infection for the study. The NSPCs residing in the subventricular zone of the infected brains showed prominent expression of MHC-I and costimulatory molecules CD40, CD80, and CD86. Using Flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy, we observed increased surface expression of co-stimulatory molecule and MHC class I antigen in NSPCs upon progressive JEV infection in vitro. Moreover, significant production of pro-inflammatory cyto/chemokines was detected in JEV infected NSPCs by Cytokine Bead Array analysis. Interestingly, NSPCs were capable of providing functional costimulation to allogenic T cells and JEV infection resulted in increased proliferation of allogenic T cells, as detected by Mixed Lymphocyte reaction and CFSE experiments. We also report IL-2 production by NSPCs upon JEV infection, which possibly provides mitogenic signals to T cells and trigger their proliferation. Conclusion/Significance: The in vivo and in vitro findings clearly indicate the development of immunogenicity in NSPCs following progressive JEV infection, in our case, JEV infection. Following a neurotropic virus infection, NSPCs possibly behave as immunogenic cells and contribute to both the innate and adaptive immune axes. The newly discovered immunological properties of NSPCs may have implications in assigning a new role of these cells as non-professional antigen presenting cells in the central nervous system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)