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TipDCs—The Necessary Evil of Lethal Influenza Virus Infection

Could the lethality of some influenza viruses actually result from the body’s own immune response? NIAID-supported researchers found that mice infected with virulent strains of influenza produced more of a specific type of immune cell, called TNF-α/inducible nitric oxide synthase producing dendritic cells or tipDCs, than mice infected with a less virulent form of the virus. TipDCs are produced to fight infection in the lung. The researchers also used the immune-moderating drug pioglitazone to reduce or eliminate the tipDCs in the lungs. Decreasing rather than completely eliminating the tipDCs resulted in decreased mortality and a faster recovery for the infected mice. This research demonstrates the potential for using pioglitazone as a treatment for influenza in the event of pandemic outbreak.


JR Aldridge et al. TNF/iNOS-Producing Dendritic Cells—The Necessary Evil of Lethal Influenza Virus Infection. Proc Natl Acad Sci. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0900655106 (2009).

Last Updated March 12, 2013

Last Reviewed March 12, 2013