Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Legge, Kevin L

First Committee Member

Harty, John T

Second Committee Member

Maury, Wendy J

Third Committee Member

Schlueter, Annette J

Fourth Committee Member

Waldschmidt, Thomas J


We have recently demonstrated in a model of influenza A virus (IAV) infection that the absence of specific pulmonary DC subsets, including plasmacytoid DC (pDC) and CD8a+ DC, from the lungs leads to a significant decrease in the number of virus-specific CD8 T cells. Reconstitution of the lungs with physiologic numbers of pDC or CD8a+ DC is able to restore the pulmonary IAV-specific CD8 T cell response to near normal levels via a mechanism that is dependent upon direct DC:T cell interactions, DC-expressed MHC I and the presence of viral antigen. Interestingly, however, this rescue is DC subset specific, as reconstitution with purified alveolar and airway DC or alveolar macrophages was unable to rescue the virus-specific CD8 T cell response. Following IAV infection there is an abundance of IAV antigen and MHC I expressing cells present in the lungs, including infected epithelial cells. Given this fact and the inability of all DC subsets to rescue the virus-specific CD8 T cell response, it suggested that there were additional, undefined requirements for pDC- and CD8a+ DC-mediated rescue of the T cell response in the lungs. Further, although it was known that the reduction in virus-specific CD8 T cells in the lungs was a result of increased T cell apoptosis, it remained unclear what pathways of apoptosis were contributing to the increased cell death, and what mechanism pulmonary DC subsets were utilizing to rescue this defect.

Here, we demonstrate that in the absence of lung-resident DC subsets, virus-specific CD8 T cells undergo significantly increased levels of apoptosis via both extrinsic activation induced cell death and intrinsic activated cell-autonomous death pathways. Reconstitution of aDC depleted lungs with pulmonary pDC and CD8a+ DC promotes increased T cell expression of the pro-survival molecule Bcl-2 and hence, increased T cell survival and accumulation in the lungs. Our studies herein demonstrate that pulmonary DC subsets utilize a variety of mechanisms to promote the rescue of virus-specific CD8 T cells in the lungs. Blockade of the costimulatory molecules CD70, and in some cases, 4-1BBL and OX40L, ablates the pulmonary DC mediated rescue of CD8 T cell numbers in the lungs, suggesting that late costimulation is one essential mechanism that pulmonary DC use to regulate CD8 T cell immunity following IAV infection. Further, we demonstrate that the absence of DC following IAV infection results in significantly reduced levels of IL-15 in the lungs and that pulmonary DC-mediated rescue of virus-specific CD8 T cell responses in the lungs requires the trans-presentation of IL-15 via DC-expressed IL-15Ra. In addition to the role of pulmonary DC mediated costimulation and IL-15 trans-presentation, we further demonstrate a previously unrecognized role for viral antigen in regulating the accumulation of both pulmonary DC and virus-specific CD8 T cells in the lungs, suggesting that viral load can dictate the nature of the inflammatory environment in the lungs and thus, regulate the character of the ensuing IAV-specific immune response.

Collectively, the results detailed here demonstrate a previously unrecognized role for pulmonary DC in regulating primary IAV-specific CD8 T cell immunity, and hence, promoting enhanced viral clearance and recovery from disease.


CD8 T cells, dendritic cells, influenza virus


x, 202 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 181-202).


Copyright 2010 Jodi Lynn McGill