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© 2015 Saravia et al. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of infant hospitalizations and severe RSV infections are a significant risk factor for childhood asthma. The pathogenic mechanisms responsible for RSV induced immunopathophysiology remain elusive. Using an age-appropriate mouse model of RSV, we show that IL-33 plays a critical role in the immunopathogenesis of severe RSV, which is associated with higher group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) specifically in neonates. Infection with RSV induced rapid IL-33 expression and an increase in ILC2 numbers in the lungs of neonatal mice; this was not observed in adult mice. Blocking IL-33 with antibodies or using an IL-33 receptor knockout mouse during infection was sufficient to inhibit RSV immunopathogenesis (i.e., airway hyperresponsiveness, Th2 inflammation, eosinophilia, and mucus hyperproduction); whereas administration of IL-33 to adult mice during RSV infection was sufficient to induce RSV disease. Additionally, elevated IL-33 and IL-13 were observed in nasal aspirates from infants hospitalized with RSV; these cytokines declined during convalescence. In summary, IL-33 is necessary, either directly or indirectly, to induce ILC2s and the Th2 biased immunopathophysiology observed following neonatal RSV infection. This study provides a mechanism involving IL-33 and ILC2s in RSV mediated human asthma.

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PLoS Pathogens