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Immunol Invest. 2016;45(2):116-29. doi: 10.3109/08820139.2015.1099663. Epub 2016 Feb 5.

Up-Regulation of Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines and Chemokine Production in Avian Influenza H9N2 Virus-Infected Human Lung Epithelial Cell Line (A549).

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a Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute , Mashhad , Iran.
b Biotechnology Section, Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine , Ferdowsi University of Mashhad , Mashhad , Iran.
c Immunology Section, Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine , Ferdowsi University of Mashhad , Mashhad , Iran.


Influenza H9N2 virus mostly infects avian species but poses a potential health risk to humans. Little is known about the mammalian host immune responses to H9N2 virus. To obtain insight into the innate immune responses of human lung epithelial cells to the avian H9N2 virus, the expressions of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokine in the human airway epithelial cells infected with avian H9N2 virus were examined by real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). H9N2 virus was able to cultivate in the human lung epithelial cell line (A549) and stimulate production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6) and chemokine (IL-8). Expressions of cytokine genes were up-regulated to a significantly higher level for IL-1β (p < 0.01), IL-6 (p < 0.01 after 12 hours and p < 0.05 after 24 hours) and IL-8 (p < 0.01 after 12 hours and p < 0.001 after 24 hours) in virus-cultured A549 cells as compared with non-virus-cultured cells. The amount of IL-6 and IL-1β proteins secreted into the culture medium was also increased after virus culture infection of A549 cell line compared to non-virus-cultured A549 cells and were significant in both IL-1β (p < 0.05 in 18 hours and p < 0.001 in 24-48 hours harvested supernatant) and IL-6 (p < 0.001). Silencing the p65 component of NF-κB in A549 cells suppressed the stimulatory effects of influenza virus on secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokine. The findings in this study will broaden our understanding of host innate immune mechanisms and the pathogenesis of H9N2 influenza viruses in human respiratory epithelium.


Avian influenza virus H9N2; chemokine; human lung epithelial cell line (A549); pro-inflammatory cytokines

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