The phenomenon of endotoxin sensitization by virus infection is well documented but not yet well understood. Infection by virtually any viral agent will quickly induce expression of type I interferons (IFN-α/β), and type II IFN-γ production will follow as NK cells and T cells are activated. It has been well established that type II IFN pretreatment can intensify the effects of endotoxin. We have recently demonstrated that type I IFN induction by lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection dramatically increases TNF-α production following LPS treatment, and that this sensitization by type I IFN is STAT1 dependent. Taken together these data suggest that the STAT1-mediated, MyD88-independent, arm of the LPS signaling pathway plays an important role in endotoxin toxicity, and that this pathway mediates a major component of virus-enhanced LPS sensitization.
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