Distinct roles of interferon alpha and beta in controlling chikungunya virus replication and modulating neutrophil-mediated inflammation
Type I interferons (IFNs) are key mediators of the innate immune response. Although members of this family of cytokines signal through a single shared receptor, biochemical and functional variation exists in response to different IFN subtypes. While previous work has demonstrated that type I IFNs are essential to control infection by chikungunya virus (CHIKV), a globally emerging alphavirus, the contributions of individual IFN subtypes remain undefined. To address this question, we evaluated CHIKV pathogenesis in mice lacking IFN-β (IFN-β knockout [IFN-β-KO] mice or mice treated with an IFN-β-blocking antibody) or IFN-α (IFN regulatory factor 7 knockout [IRF7-KO] mice or mice treated with a pan-IFN-α-blocking antibody). Mice lacking either IFN-α or IFN-β developed severe clinical disease following infection with CHIKV, with a marked increase in foot swelling compared to wild-type mice. Virological analysis revealed that mice lacking IFN-α sustained elevated infection in the infected ankle and in distant tissues. In contrast, IFN-β-KO mice displayed minimal differences in viral burdens within the ankle or at distal sites and instead had an altered cellular immune response. Mice lacking IFN-β had increased neutrophil infiltration into musculoskeletal tissues, and depletion of neutrophils in IFN-β-KO but not IRF7-KO mice mitigated musculoskeletal disease caused by CHIKV. Our findings suggest disparate roles for the IFN subtypes during CHIKV infection, with IFN-α limiting early viral replication and dissemination and IFN-β modulating neutrophil-mediated inflammation.