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Mucosal Immunol. 2013 May;6(3):569-79. doi: 10.1038/mi.2012.99. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

Constitutive production of IL-13 promotes early-life Chlamydia respiratory infection and allergic airway disease.

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Center for Asthma and Respiratory Disease and Hunter Medical Research Institute, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia.


Deleterious responses to pathogens during infancy may contribute to infection and associated asthma. Chlamydia respiratory infections in early life are common causes of pneumonia and lead to reduced lung function and asthma. We investigated the role of interleukin-13 (IL-13) in promoting early-life Chlamydia respiratory infection, infection-induced airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), and severe allergic airway disease (AAD). Infected infant Il13(-/-) mice had reduced infection, inflammation, and mucus-secreting cell hyperplasia. Surprisingly, infection of wild-type (WT) mice did not increase IL-13 production but reduced IL-13Rα2 decoy receptor levels compared with sham-inoculated controls. Infection of WT but not Il13(-/-) mice induced persistent AHR. Infection and associated pathology were restored in infected Il13(-/-) mice by reconstitution with IL-13. Stat6(-/-) mice were also largely protected. Neutralization of IL-13 during infection prevented subsequent infection-induced severe AAD. Thus, early-life Chlamydia respiratory infection reduces IL-13Rα2 production, which may enhance the effects of constitutive IL-13 and promote more severe infection, persistent AHR, and AAD.

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