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Eur Respir J. 2012 Feb;39(2):297-304. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00054511. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Lack of an exaggerated inflammatory response on virus infection in cystic fibrosis.

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Division of Respiratory Medicine, Dept of Paediatrics, University Children's Hospital of Bern, Inselspital, 3010 Bern, Switzerland.


Respiratory virus infections play an important role in cystic fibrosis (CF) exacerbations, but underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are poorly understood. We aimed to assess whether an exaggerated inflammatory response of the airway epithelium on virus infection could explain the increased susceptibility of CF patients towards respiratory viruses. We used primary bronchial and nasal epithelial cells obtained from 24 healthy control subjects and 18 CF patients. IL-6, IL-8/CXCL8, IP-10/CXCL10, MCP-1/CCL2, RANTES/CCL5 and GRO-α/CXCL1 levels in supernatants and mRNA expression in cell lysates were measured before and after infection with rhinoviruses (RV-16 and RV-1B) and RSV. Cytotoxicity was assessed by lactate dehydrogenate assay and flow cytometry. All viruses induced strong cytokine release in both control and CF cells. The inflammatory response on virus infection was heterogeneous and depended on cell type and virus used, but was not increased in CF compared with control cells. On the contrary, there was a marked trend towards lower cytokine production associated with increased cell death in CF cells. An exaggerated inflammatory response to virus infection in bronchial epithelial cells does not explain the increased respiratory morbidity after virus infection in CF patients.

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