Cytokines produced early in picornavirus infection reflect resistance or susceptibility to disease
Gender bias favoring female resistance to picornavirus disease is not seen in ICR Swiss mice following infection with the MM strain of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) (causing encephalitis and death) as it is with D variant of EMCV (causing diabetes in males). To define this difference, an in vitro virus-infected splenocyte culture system was used to explore virus effects on lymphoid cells. Infected and sham-infected splenocyte cultures, prepared from both genders of mice and infected with either virus variant, were examined for immunoregulatory cytokines in the first 24 h of infection using ELISA or bioassays. Disease resistance was associated with increased levels of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and undetectable levels of interleukin-10 (IL-10) by 12 h postinfection in splenocytes from ICR Swiss females infected with EMCV-D. Disease susceptibility was associated with high levels of IL-10 at 12 h after infection of spleen cells from ICR Swiss males infected with EMCV-D or from both genders infected with EMCV-MM. This information was used to protect susceptible mice against picornavirus disease (either diabetes or death) by giving them an inducer of IFN-α/β, to induce natural killer (NK)-like cells to produce high levels of IFN-γ and rat monoclonal anti-IL-10 to neutralize the effects of mouse IL-10.