Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of acute bronchiolitis in infants and the elderly. Furthermore, epidemiological data suggest that RSV infection during infancy is a potent trigger of subsequent wheeze and asthma development. However, the mechanism by which RSV contributes to asthma is complex and remains largely unknown. A recent study indicates that the age of initial RSV infection is a key factor in determining airway response to RSV rechallenge. We hypothesized that severe RSV infection during neonatal development significantly alters lung structure and the pulmonary immune micro-environment; and thus, neonatal RSV infection is crucial in the development of or predisposition to allergic inflammatory diseases such as asthma. Methods: To investigate this hypothesis the present study was conducted in a neonatal mouse model of RSV-induced pulmonary inflammation and airway dysfunction. Seven-day-old mice were infected with RSV (2 × 105 TCID50/g body weight) and allowed to mature to adulthood. To determine if neonatal RSV infection predisposed adult animals to enhanced pathophysiological responses to allergens, these mice were then sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin. Various endpoints including lung function, histopathology, cytokine production, and cellularity in bronchoalveolar lavage were examined. Results: RSV infection in neonates alone led to inflammatory airway disease characterized by airway hyperreactivity, peribronchial and perivascular inflammation, and subepithelial fibrosis in adults. If early RSV infection was followed by allergen exposure, this pulmonary phenotype was exacerbated. The initial response to neonatal RSV infection resulted in increased TNF-α levels in bronchoalveolar lavage. Interestingly, increased levels of IL-13 and mucus hyperproduction were observed almost three months after the initial infection with RSV. Conclusion: Neonatal RSV exposure results in long term pulmonary inflammation and exacerbates allergic airways disease. The early increase in TNF-α in the bronchoalveolar lavage implicates this inflammatory cytokine in orchestrating these events. Finally, the data presented emphasize IL-13 and TNF-α as potential therapeutic targets for treating RSV induced-asthma. © 2006 You et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
You, D., Becnel, D., Wang, K., Ripple, M., Daly, M., & Cormier, S. (2006). Exposure of neonates to respiratory syncytial virus is critical in determining subsequent airway response in adults. Respiratory Research, 7 https://doi.org/10.1186/1465-9921-7-107