Impaired dendritic cell (DC) function is thought to be central to human immunodeficiency virus-associated immunodeficiency. In this study, we examined the effect of chronic feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection on DC cytokine production in response to microbial and T-cell stimulation. Cytokine production after either Toll-like receptor (TLR) or CD40 ligation in bone marrow-derived DCs (BM-DCs) was measured in naïve and chronically FIV-infected cats. The BM-DCs were stimulated with ligands to TLR-2, -3, -4, -7 and -9 or cocultured with 3T3 cells expressing feline CD40 ligand. Ligation of TLR-4 and TLR-9 in BM-DCs from infected cats resulted in a significant decrease in the ratio of interleukin-12 (IL-12) to IL-10. Conversely, TLR-7 ligation produced a significant increase in the IL-12 : IL-10 ratio in BM-DCs from infected cats. No difference was noted for TLR-3 ligation. RNA expression levels of TLR-2, -3, -4, -7 and -9 were not significantly altered by FIV infection. CD40 ligation significantly elevated both IL-10 and IL-12 messenger RNA production but did not alter the IL-12 : IL-10 ratio. Chronic FIV infection alters the ratio of immunoregulatory cytokines produced by BM-DCs in response to certain pathogen-derived signals, which is probably relevant to the increased risk of opportunistic infections seen in lentiviral infection
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