Cytomegalovirus (CMV) has been associated with immunosuppression. Previously CMV was reported to interfere with signal transduction pathways in T cells. In this report the mechanisms underlying CMV-mediated immunosuppression were examined. Supernatants of CMV (Strains C-87, AD-169)-infected primary human monocyte (MO) cultures inhibited mitogenic T cell proliferative responses by > 95%. The inhibitory activity was observed 24 h through day 7 postinfection. The infection of MO was associated with a sustained elevation of intracellular levels of cAMP and the release of arachidonic acid (AA) and its metabolite PGE2 (activator of adenylate cyclase) in culture supernatants. The AA release was incidentally associated with TNF-alpha production. Monoclonal antibodies to TNF-alpha and pentoxyphylline (inhibitor of TNF synthesis) inhibited both AA and PGE2 release. The release of AA required protein synthesis and occurred under conditions consistent with the expression of CMV immediate early genes. Treatment of MO cultures at time of infection with 100 microM indomethacin or 1 microg of TNF-alpha mAb abolished the CMV-induced T cell inhibitory activity of the supernatants by 100%. These data suggest that TNF dependent release of AA and PGE2 contributes to CMV-induced immunosuppression.
M A Nokta, M I Hassan, K Loesch, R B Pollard