Measles is characterized by a transient immune suppression, leading to an increased risk of opportunistic infections. Measles virus (MV) infection of immune cells is mediated by the cellular receptor CD150, expressed by subsets of lymphocytes, dendritic cells, macrophages, and thymocytes. Previous studies showed that human and nonhuman primate memory T cells express higher levels of CD150 than naive cells and are more susceptible to MV infection. However, limited information is available about the CD150 expression and relative susceptibility to MV infection of B-cell subsets. In this study, we assessed the susceptibility and permissiveness of naive and memory T- and B-cell subsets from human peripheral blood or tonsils to in vitro MV infection. Our study demonstrates that naive and memory B cells express CD150, but at lower frequencies than memory T cells. Nevertheless, both naive and memory B cells proved to be highly permissive to MV infection. Furthermore, we assessed the susceptibility and permissiveness of various functionally distinct T and B cells, such as helper T (TH) cell subsets and IgG- and IgA-positive memory B cells, in peripheral blood and tonsils. We demonstrated that TH1TH17 cells and plasma and germinal center B cells were the subsets most susceptible and permissive to MV infection. Our study suggests that both naive and memory B cells, along with several other antigen-experienced lymphocytes, are important target cells of MV infection. Depletion of these cells potentially contributes to the pathogenesis of measles immune suppression.

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Journal of Virology
Department of Virology

Laksono, B.M, Grosserichter-Wagener, C, de Vries, R.D, Langeveld, S.A.G. (Simone A.G.), Brem, M.D, van Dongen, J.J.M, … de Swart, R.L. (2018). In vitro measles virus infection of human lymphocyte subsets demonstrates high susceptibility and permissiveness of both naive and memory B cells. Journal of Virology, 92(8). doi:10.1128/JVI.00131-18