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The Inflammatory Response

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Vincent Racaniello from This Week in Virology has a great post on his site about what happens to the immune system during the initial infection of an influenza virus:

During the earliest stages of a virus infection, cytokines are produced when innate immune defenses are activated. The rapid release of cytokines at the site of infection initiates new responses with far-reaching consequences that include inflammation.

One of the earliest cytokines produced is tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), which is synthesized by activated monocytes and macrophages. This cytokine changes nearby capillaries so that circulating white blood cells can be easily brought to the site of infection. TNF-α can also bind to receptors on infected cells and induce an antiviral response. Within seconds, a series of signals is initiated that leads to cell death, an attempt to prevent the spread of infection.
 
 

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