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Exp Lung Res. 2011 Apr;37(3):131-43. doi: 10.3109/01902148.2010.484518. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Exogenous administration of vascular endothelial growth factor prior to human respiratory syncytial virus a2 infection reduces pulmonary pathology in neonatal lambs and alters epithelial innate immune responses.

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Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA.


Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) affects thousands of children every year. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a regulator of vasculogenesis, pulmonary maturation, and immunity. In order to test the extent to which VEGF may alter RSV infection, 4 groups of lambs received either human recombinant VEGF (rhVEGF) or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) pretreatment followed by inoculation with human RSV strain A2 or sterile medium. Lambs in each group were sacrificed at 2, 4, and 6 days post infection. Expression of surfactant protein-A (SP-A), surfactant protein-D (SP-D), sheep β-defensin-1 (SBD-1), tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, interferon β, and endogenous VEGF were measured to determine effect of rhVEGF pretreatment. RSV lambs pretreated with rhVEGF had reduced viral mRNA and decreased pulmonary pathology at day 6. Pretreatment with rhVEGF increased mRNA expression of SP-A, SBD-1, and TNFα, with alteration of expression in RSV lambs. Endogenous VEGF mRNA levels were increased at day 2 regardless of pretreatment. Pretreatment with rhVEGF increased pulmonary cellular proliferation in RSV lambs at day 4 post infection. Overall, these results suggest that pretreatment with rhVEGF protein may have therapeutic potential to decrease RSV viral load, decrease pulmonary lesion severity, and alter both epithelial innate immune responses and epithelial cell proliferation.

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