Enterovirus A71 (EV-A71) infection can induce encephalitis, which causes death or long-term neurological sequelae, especially in young children. Using a murine infection model, we searched for anti-EV-A71 agents, because effective therapies are not available to control fatal infection. In EV-A71-infected mice, treatment with the hematopoietic growth factor, Fms-like tyrosine-kinase 3 ligand (Flt3 ligand) before infection reduced the lethality and tissue viral loads. Flt3 ligand failed to enhance the production of type I interferons. Instead, Flt3 ligand boosted the numbers of dendritic cells and, particularly lymphocytes in infected organs with an expansion of spleen B cells, and resulted in an increased titer of virus-specific antibody with neutralizing activity in the serum. The protective effect of Flt3 ligand was abolished in B cell-deficient mice. Our findings revealed that Flt3 ligand administration promotes resistance to EV-A71 infection with enhanced B cell response in a mechanism rarely reported before.
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