Airway damage and hyperreactivity induced during respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection can have a prolonged effect in infants and young children. These infections can alter the long-term function of the lung and may lead to severe asthma-like responses. In these studies, the role of IL-13 in inducing and maintaining a prolonged airway hyperreactivity response was examined using a mouse model of primary RSV infection. Using this model, there was evidence of significant airway epithelial cell damage and sloughing, along with mucus production. The airway hyperreactivity response was significantly increased by 8 days postinfection, peaked during days 10-12, and began to resolve by day 14. When the local production of Th1- and Th2-associated cytokines was examined, there was a significant increase, primarily in IL-13, as the viral response progressed. Treatment of RSV-infected mice with anti-IL-13 substantially inhibited airway hyperreactivity. Anti-IL-4 treatment had no effect on the RSV-induced responses. Interestingly, when IL-13 was neutralized, an early increase in IL-12 production was observed within the lungs, as was a significantly lower level of viral Ags, suggesting that IL-13 may be regulating an important antiviral pathway. The examination of RSV-induced airway hyperreactivity in STAT6-/- mice demonstrated a significant attenuation of the response, similar to the anti-IL-13 treatment. In addition, STAT6-/- mice had a significant alteration of mucus-producing cells in the airway. Altogether, these studies suggest that a primary factor leading to chronic RSV-induced airway dysfunction may be the inappropriate production of IL-13.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy