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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2011 Jan;300(1):L12-24. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00169.2010. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Respiratory syncytial virus is associated with an inflammatory response in lungs and architectural remodeling of lung-draining lymph nodes of newborn lambs.

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  • 1Dept. of Veterinary Pathology, Iowa State Univ., Ames, 50011, USA.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract infection in children worldwide. The understanding of neonatal RSV pathogenesis depends on using an animal model that reproduces neonatal RSV disease. Previous studies from us and others demonstrated that the neonatal lamb model resembles human neonatal RSV infection. Here, we provide an extensive and detailed characterization of the histopathology, viral load, cellular infiltration, and cytokine production in lungs and tracheobronchial lymph nodes of lambs inoculated with human RSV strain A2 over the course of infection. In the lung, RSV titers were low at day 3 postinfection, increased significantly by day 6, and decreased to baseline levels at day 14. Infection in the lung was associated with an accumulation of macrophages, CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, and a transcriptional response of genes involved in inflammation, chemotaxis, and interferon response, characterized by increased IFNγ, IL-8, MCP-1, and PD-L1, and decreased IFNβ, IL-10, and TGF-β. Laser capture microdissection studies determined that lung macrophage-enriched populations were the source of MCP-1 but not IL-8. Immunoreactivity to caspase 3 occurred within bronchioles and alveoli of day 6-infected lambs. In lung-draining lymph nodes, RSV induced lymphoid hyperplasia, suggesting an ability of RSV to enhance lymphocytic proliferation and differentiation pathways. This study suggests that, in lambs with moderate clinical disease, RSV enhances the activation of caspase cell death and Th1-skewed inflammatory pathways, and complements previous observations that emphasize the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of RSV disease.

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