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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2001 Jan;24(1):74-82.

Reduced interferon-gamma secretion by natural killer cells from rats susceptible to postviral chronic airway dysfunction.

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Division of Allergy, Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, and School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53792, USA.


After parainfluenza type 1 (Sendai) virus infection as weanlings, Brown Norway (BN), unlike Fischer 344 (F344), rats develop an asthma-like phenotype. Reduced postinfection interferon (IFN)-gamma levels in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from BN weanlings and the prevention of chronic airway sequelae in BN rats by IFN-gamma treatment led to the hypothesis that cells from BN weanlings have a reduced ability to secrete IFN-gamma. After stimulation with Sendai virus or interleukin (IL)-12, splenocytes from uninfected BN weanlings secreted significantly less IFN-gamma than did splenocytes from F344 weanlings (P < 0.005), as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Because levels of potential IFN-gamma-secreting cells in the spleen differed between the strains, natural killer (NK) cells, an important IFN-gamma source during early antiviral responses, were purified from spleens of uninfected weanlings. When stimulated with IL-12, BN NK cells secreted significantly less IFN-gamma than did F344 NK cells (P < 0.001). Incubation of NK cells from either strain with IL-12 and IL-18 resulted in synergistic increases in IFN-gamma production, but BN cells still secreted significantly less IFN-gamma than did F344 cells (P < 0.05). Similarly, after incubation with either IFN-alpha or IFN-alpha plus IL-18, BN NK cells secreted significantly less IFN-gamma than did F344 NK cells (P < 0.05). Therefore, reduced IFN-gamma secretion by NK cells in BN weanlings may play a role in the development of postviral chronic airway dysfunction.

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