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apoptosis, tumor necrosis factor alpha, dendritic cell, Fowlpox virus, Macaca, virus recombinant


Recombinant avipox viruses are being widely evaluated as vaccines. To address how these viruses, which replicate poorly in mammalian cells, might be immunogenic, we studied how canarypox virus (ALVAC) interacts with primate antigen-presenting dendritic cells (DCs). When human and rhesus macaque monocyte-derived DCs were exposed to recombinant ALVAC, immature DCs were most susceptible to infection. However, many of the infected cells underwent apoptotic cell death, and dying infected cells were engulfed by uninfected DCs. Furthermore, a subset of DCs matured in the ALVAC-exposed DC cultures. DC maturation coincided with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) secretion and was significantly blocked in the presence of anti-TNF-α antibodies. Interestingly, inhibition of apoptosis with a caspase 3 inhibitor also reduced some of the maturation induced by exposure to ALVAC. This indicates that both TNF-α and the presence of primarily apoptotic cells contributed to DC maturation. Therefore, infection of immature primate DCs with ALVAC results in apoptotic death of infected cells, which can be internalized by noninfected DCs driving DC maturation in the presence of the TNF-α secreted concomitantly by exposed cells. This suggests an important mechanism that may influence the immunogenicity of avipox virus vectors.


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