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J Immunol. 2009 Dec 1;183(11):7006-13. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0900085. Epub 2009 Nov 13.

IL-9 regulates pathology during primary and memory responses to respiratory syncytial virus infection.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, St. Mary's Campus, Imperial College, London W2 1PG, United Kingdom.


IL-9 is a cytokine of great current interest associated with allergic/Th2 responses. High levels of IL-9 are present in bronchial secretions from infants with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis. To test its effects in RSV disease with a Th2 profile, BALB/c mice were vaccinated with recombinant vaccinia virus expressing the RSV G protein. On RSV challenge, immunized mice developed augmented disease characterized by enhanced pulmonary Th2 and local IL-9 production peaking on days 7-10 of RSV infection. Depletion with anti-IL-9 Ab at vaccination or RSV challenge enhanced viral clearance. Depletion only at challenge had no effect on disease severity, whereas depletion at immunization and challenge enhanced Th1 responses, inhibited virus-specific IgG1 production, and enhanced disease severity. By contrast, depletion of IL-9 at immunization boosted IgG2a and inhibited the Th2 response and disease during subsequent infection without a concomitant increase in type 1 cytokines. Adoptive transfer of secondary memory CD4 T cells from the spleens of IL-9-depleted mice into naive recipients replicated many of the effects of depletion, indicating that IL-9 acts via CD4 T cells. Therefore, IL-9 is a previously unknown but key modulator of antiviral immunity, regulating T and B cell responses and having potent and specific effects on viral lung disease.

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