Does the Gender Difference in Interferon Production Seen in Picornavirus-Infected Spleen Cell Cultures from ICR Swiss Mice Have Any In Vivo Significance?

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Splenocyte cultures from female ICR Swiss mice produced greater interferon (IFN) levels, particularly IFN-γ, than did cultures from males by 12 h post-infection (pi) with the D variant of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV-D). This early IFN-γ is produced by natural killer (NK)-like cells and is dependent on plastic adherent cells and IFN-α/β.(1,2) In this study, we evaluated the significance of this observation on the innate resistance of ICR Swiss females to EMCV-D-mediated disease. Treatment of females with rabbit anti-mouse IFN-α/β serum rendered them susceptible to the diabetogenicity of EMCV-D. Although sera from both sexes of ICR Swiss mice exhibited peak IFN levels day 3 pi, IFN-γ was present in the sera of males at only 1 day pi and in the sera of females at days 1–3 pi. Females cleared virus from the circulation by day 2 pi, 1 day earlier than did males. Flow cytometric evaluations of lymphoid cell phenotypes in spleens and pancreata of infected mice revealed that percentages of L3T4+ cells were significantly decreased only in spleens from males at day 1 pi and were diminished along with Ly2+ cells in pancreata of males at 7 days pi, suggesting that T-cell responses were impaired in virus-infected males.



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