Cytomegalovirus induces cytokine and chemokine production differentially in microglia and astrocytes: Antiviral implications

Maxim C Cheeran, Shuxian Hu, S. L. Yager, G. Gekker, P. K. Peterson, James R Lokensgard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Glial cells function as sensors for infection within the brain and produce cytokines to limit viral replication and spread. We examined both cytokine (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6) and chemokine (MCP-1, MIP-lα, RANTES, and IL-8) production by primary human glial cells in response to cytomegalovirus (CMV). Although CMV-infected astrocytes did not produce antiviral cytokines, they generated significant quantities of the chemokines MCP-1 and IL-8 in response to viral infection. On the other hand, supernatants from CMV-stimulated purified microglial cell cultures showed a marked increase in the production of TNF-α and IL-6, as well as chemokines. Supernatants from CMV-infected astrocyte cultures induced the migration of microglia towards chemotactic signals generated from infected astrocytes. Antibodies to MCP-1, but not to MIP-1α, RANTES, or IL-8, inhibited this migratory activity. These findings suggest that infected astrocytes may use MCP-1 to recruit antiviral cytokine-producing microglial cells to foci of infection. To test this hypothesis, cocultures of astrocytes and microglial cells were infected with CMV. Viral gene expression in these cocultures was 60% lower than in CMV infected purified astrocyte cultures lacking microglia. These results support the hypothesis that microglia play an important antiviral role in defense of the brain against CMV. The host defense function of microglial cells may be directed in part by chemokines, such as MCP-1, produced by infected astrocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-147
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurovirology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Glia


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