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J Virol. 1997 Nov;71(11):8204-12.

Collectin-mediated antiviral host defense of the lung: evidence from influenza virus infection of mice.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Collagenous lectins (collectins) present in mammalian serum and pulmonary fluids bind to influenza virus and display antiviral activity in vitro, but their role in vivo has yet to be determined. We have used early and late isolates of H3N2 subtype influenza viruses that differ in their degree of glycosylation to examine the relationship between sensitivity to murine serum and pulmonary lectins in vitro and the ability of a virus to replicate in the respiratory tract of mice. A marked inverse correlation was found between these two parameters. Early H3 isolates (1968 to 1972) bear 7 potential glycosylation sites on hemagglutinin (HA), whereas later strains carry 9 or 10. Late isolates were shown to be much more sensitive than early strains to neutralization by the mouse serum mannose-binding lectin (MBL) and rat lung surfactant protein D (SP-D) and bound greater levels of these lectins in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and Western blot analyses. They also replicated very poorly in mouse lungs compared to the earlier strains. Growth in the lungs was greatly enhanced, however, if saccharide inhibitors of the collectins were included in the virus inoculum. The level of SP-D in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids increased on influenza virus infection. MBL was absent from lavage fluids of normal mice but could be detected in fluids from mice 3 days after infection with the virulent strain A/PR/8/34 (H1N1). The results implicate SP-D and possibly MBL as important components of the innate defense of the respiratory tract against influenza virus and indicate that the degree or pattern of glycosylation of a virus can be an important factor in its virulence.

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