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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 26;8(9):e76708. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076708. eCollection 2013.

Closely related influenza viruses induce contrasting respiratory tract immunopathology.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University, School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.


The swine-origin H1N1 virus which emerged in 2009 resulted in the first influenza pandemic of the 21(st) century. Although the majority of infections were moderate, a significant proportion of infections were severe and characterized by acute respiratory distress syndrome and pulmonary edema. We compared two isolates from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic; A/California/07/09 (CA/07) and A/Netherlands/602/09 (NL/602) viruses that share greater than 99% sequence identity. Though genetically similar, these viruses exhibit contrasting pathological effects. Mice that were infected with 800 plaque forming unit (PFU) of CA/07 virus rapidly lost weight, which was concurrent with detection of high pulmonary concentrations of MCP-1, MIG, IP-10 and TIMP-1. Initially, severe bronchiolar epithelial necrosis and acute respiratory distress was observed, followed by marked bronchiolar epithelial hyperplasia. Mononuclear cell infiltration was initially localized to perivascular and peribronchiolar interstitium and then spread to adjacent alveoli. Infiltrating cells were phenotypically CD11b(hi), F4/80(lo). In contrast, when mice were infected with 800 PFU of NL/602 virus, minimal weight loss was observed, and concentrations of cytokines in the lung were significantly lower. Inflammation was primarily restricted to the bronchioles and perivascular interstitium with minimal spread to alveoli. Infiltrating cells include foamy macrophages and surface markers were characterized as CD11b(lo/-), F4/80(hi). These two genetically similar viruses can be useful strains with which to investigate immune-regulatory determinants of pathogenesis of influenza virus.

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