Research ArticleINFECTIOUS DISEASES

Interferon-driven deletion of antiviral B cells at the onset of chronic infection

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Science Immunology  21 Oct 2016:
Vol. 1, Issue 4, eaah6817
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aah6817

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B cells hoisted by their own petard: IFN-I

Certain pathogens, including HIV and hepatitis viruses, that lead to persistent infections are often associated with suboptimal antibody responses. Using LCMV infection in mice, Fallet et al., Moseman et al., and Sammicheli et al. report that up-regulation of type I interferon (IFN-I) in the early phase of infection is a key contributor to premature deletion of virus-specific B cells. Blockade of IFN-I prevents B cell deletion. Although the studies agree that IFN-I does not act directly on B cells, they found that distinct immune cells mediate IFN-I–dependent deletion of B cells, depending on the system examined. Targeting of the IFN-I pathway could be used to restore B cell responses during persistent viral infections in humans.