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1.  Involvement of Toll-Like Receptor 4 in Innate Immunity to Respiratory Syncytial Virus 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(22):10730-10737.
The mammalian Toll-like receptor 4, TLR4, is an important component in the innate immune response to gram-negative bacterial infection. The role of TLR4 in antiviral immunity has been largely unexplored. In this study, the in vivo immune responses to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza virus infection were examined in TLR4-deficient (C57BL/10ScNCr) and TLR4-expressing (C57BL/10Sn) mice. TLR4-deficient mice challenged with RSV, but not influenza virus, exhibited impaired natural killer (NK) cell and CD14+ cell pulmonary trafficking, deficient NK cell function, impaired interleukin-12 expression, and impaired virus clearance compared to mice expressing TLR4. These findings suggest that Toll signaling pathways have an important role in innate immunity to RSV.
PMCID: PMC114654  PMID: 11602714
2.  Activation of Interferon Response through Toll-like Receptor 3 (TLR3) Impacts Viral Pathogenesis and Pulmonary TLR Expression during Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and Influenza Infections in the cotton rat S.hispidus model 
Interferon (IFN) therapy in humans often causes flu-like symptoms by an unknown mechanism. Poly ICLC is a synthetic dsRNA and a toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) agonist with a strong IFN-inducing ability. In this work we analyzed the effect of poly ICLC on pulmonary responses to influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections in the cotton rat (S. hispidus) model. Viral replication, pulmonary inflammation, and expression of IFN, TLR, and chemokines were monitored and compared. Antiviral effect of poly ICLC against influenza virus and RSV was best achieved at high poly ICLC concentrations that, in the absence of virus infection, induced a strong IFN response. The antiviral doses of poly ICLC, however, also increased lung inflammation, an unexpected finding because of the reported poly ICLC safety in BALB/c mice. Similarly, in contrast to murine model, pathology of RSV infection was increased in cotton rats treated with poly ICLC. Augmented lung inflammation was accompanied by an earlier induction of IFN and TLR responses and a stronger chemokine expression. Overall, these findings indicate significant association between antiviral IFN action and pulmonary inflammation and highlight important animal model-specific variations in the potential of IFN to cause pathology.
PMCID: PMC2882628  PMID: 20038196
IFN; influenza; RSV; Inflammation; Lung; TLR
3.  Activation of Interferon Response Through Toll-Like Receptor 3 Impacts Viral Pathogenesis and Pulmonary Toll-Like Receptor Expression During Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Influenza Infections in the Cotton Rat Sigmodon hispidus Model 
Interferon (IFN) therapy in humans often causes flu-like symptoms by an unknown mechanism. Poly ICLC is a synthetic dsRNA and a Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) agonist with a strong IFN-inducing ability. In this work, we analyzed the effect of poly ICLC on pulmonary responses to influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in the cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus) model. Viral replication, pulmonary inflammation, and expression of IFN, TLR, and chemokines were monitored and compared. Antiviral effect of poly ICLC against influenza virus and RSV was best achieved at high poly ICLC concentrations that, in the absence of virus infection, induced a strong IFN response. The antiviral doses of poly ICLC, however, also increased lung inflammation, an unexpected finding because of the reported poly ICLC safety in BALB/c mice. Similarly, in contrast to murine model, pathology of RSV infection was increased in cotton rats treated with poly ICLC. Augmented lung inflammation was accompanied by an earlier induction of IFN and TLR responses and a stronger chemokine expression. Overall, these findings indicate significant association between antiviral IFN action and pulmonary inflammation and highlight important animal model-specific variations in the potential of IFN to cause pathology.
PMCID: PMC2882628  PMID: 20038196
4.  Bacterial colonization dampens influenza-mediated acute lung injury via induction of M2 alveolar macrophages 
Nature Communications  2013;4:2106.
While the presence of airway bacteria is known to be associated with improved immunity against influenza virus, the mechanism by which endogenous microbiota influence antiviral immunity remains unclear. Here we show that specific pathogen-free mice are more sensitive to influenza-mediated death than mice living in a natural environment. Priming with Toll-like receptor 2-ligand+ Staphylococcus aureus, which commonly colonizes the upper respiratory mucosa, significantly attenuates influenza-mediated lung immune injury. Toll-like receptor 2 deficiency or alveolar macrophage depletion abolishes this protection. S. aureus priming recruits peripheral CCR2+CD11b+ monocytes into the alveoli that polarize to M2 alveolar macrophages in an environment created by Toll-like receptor 2 signalling. M2 alveolar macrophages inhibit influenza-mediated lethal inflammation via anti-inflammatory cytokines and inhibitory ligands. Our results suggest a previously undescribed mechanism by which the airway microbiota may protect against influenza-mediated lethal inflammation.
Bacterial infections can influence disease outcome in influenza infection; however, the mechanisms mediating these complex interactions remain unclear. Wang et al. reveal how infection with a component of the airway microbiota enhances survival during influenza infection via induction of anti-inflammatory macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3715851  PMID: 23820884
5.  Detrimental Contribution of the Toll-Like Receptor (TLR)3 to Influenza A Virus–Induced Acute Pneumonia 
PLoS Pathogens  2006;2(6):e53.
Influenza A virus (IAV) is the etiological agent of a highly contagious acute respiratory disease that causes epidemics and considerable mortality annually. Recently, we demonstrated, using an in vitro approach, that the pattern recognition Toll-like receptor (TLR)3 plays a key role in the immune response of lung epithelial cells to IAV. In view of these data and the fact that the functional role of TLR3 in vivo is still debated, we designed an investigation to better understand the role of TLR3 in the mechanisms of IAV pathogenesis and host immune response using an experimental murine model. The time-course of several dynamic parameters, including animal survival, respiratory suffering, viral clearance, leukocyte recruitment into the airspaces and secretion of critical inflammatory mediators, was compared in infected wild-type and TLR3−/− mice. First, we found that the pulmonary expression of TLR3 is constitutive and markedly upregulated following influenza infection in control mice. Notably, when compared to wild-type mice, infected TLR3−/− animals displayed significantly reduced inflammatory mediators, including RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted), interleukin-6, and interleukin-12p40/p70 as well as a lower number of CD8+ T lymphocytes in the bronchoalveolar airspace. More important, despite a higher viral production in the lungs, mice deficient in TLR3 had an unexpected survival advantage. Hence, to our knowledge, our findings show for the first time that TLR3-IAV interaction critically contributes to the debilitating effects of a detrimental host inflammatory response.
Influenza A virus (IAV) is responsible for highly contagious acute respiratory disease. Recent concerns have risen concerning a possible influenza pandemic in the near future. Thus, a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of IAV pathogenesis and host immune responses is required for the development of more efficient means of prevention and treatment of influenza. The Toll-like receptor (TLR)3 is a member of a family of receptors that detects microbes and triggers host defenses. We previously demonstrated using an in vitro approach, that the TLR3 plays a key role in the response of lung epithelial cells to IAV. Here, we used a mouse model to dissect the in vivo importance of TLR3-dependent responses during influenza. The time-course of several parameters, including animal survival, respiratory distress, viral clearance, and inflammation, was compared in infected control wild-type and TLR3-deficient mice. Our findings reveal that TLR3−/− mice have an unexpected advantage against IAV challenge as we show for the first time that a reduction of TLR3-mediated inflammatory response reduces the clinical manifestations of IAV-induced pneumonia.
PMCID: PMC1475659  PMID: 16789835
6.  The Synthetic Bacterial Lipopeptide Pam3CSK4 Modulates Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection Independent of TLR Activation 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(8):e1001049.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important cause of acute respiratory disease in infants, immunocompromised subjects and the elderly. However, it is unclear why most primary RSV infections are associated with relatively mild symptoms, whereas some result in severe lower respiratory tract infections and bronchiolitis. Since RSV hospitalization has been associated with respiratory bacterial co-infections, we have tested if bacterial Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists influence RSV-A2-GFP infection in human primary cells or cell lines. The synthetic bacterial lipopeptide Pam3-Cys-Ser-Lys4 (Pam3CSK4), the prototype ligand for the heterodimeric TLR1/TLR2 complex, enhanced RSV infection in primary epithelial, myeloid and lymphoid cells. Surprisingly, enhancement was optimal when lipopeptides and virus were added simultaneously, whereas addition of Pam3CSK4 immediately after infection had no effect. We have identified two structurally related lipopeptides without TLR-signaling capacity that also modulate RSV infection, whereas Pam3CSK4-reminiscent TLR1/2 agonists did not, and conclude that modulation of infection is independent of TLR activation. A similar TLR-independent enhancement of infection could also be demonstrated for wild-type RSV strains, and for HIV-1, measles virus and human metapneumovirus. We show that the effect of Pam3CSK4 is primarily mediated by enhanced binding of RSV to its target cells. The N-palmitoylated cysteine and the cationic lysines were identified as pivotal for enhanced virus binding. Surprisingly, we observed inhibition of RSV infection in immortalized epithelial cell lines, which was shown to be related to interactions between Pam3CSK4 and negatively charged glycosaminoglycans on these cells, which are known targets for binding of laboratory-adapted but not wild-type RSV. These data suggest a potential role for bacterial lipopeptides in enhanced binding of RSV and other viruses to their target cells, thus affecting viral entry or spread independent of TLR signaling. Moreover, our results also suggest a potential application for these synthetic lipopeptides as adjuvants for live-attenuated viral vaccines.
Author Summary
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections are an important cause of hospitalization of infants during the winter season. However, RSV is often not the only detectable pathogen, but co-infections with respiratory bacteria are common. It has been hypothesized that this results from epithelial damage caused by the virus, facilitating colonization by pathogenic bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae. However, an inverse order of events is not impossible: bacterial infections may activate respiratory epithelial cells through TLR signaling, resulting in increased susceptibility to virus infections. We tested this hypothesis by screening bacterial TLR agonists for their capacity to modulate RSV infection in different cell types, and identified the lipopeptide and prototype TLR1/2 agonist Pam3CSK4 as an enhancer of RSV infections. However, to our surprise this proved independent of TLR activation, but was mediated by enhancement of binding between virus and target cell. Two structurally related lipopeptides unable to stimulate TLR responses were identified that enhanced infections with RSV, but also with other enveloped viruses including HIV-1, human metapneumovirus, and measles virus. We speculate that bacterial infections may influence the pathogenesis of virus infections by facilitating binding to target cells.
PMCID: PMC2924323  PMID: 20808895
7.  Poly I:C Enhances Susceptibility to Secondary Pulmonary Infections by Gram-Positive Bacteria 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e41879.
Secondary bacterial pneumonias are a frequent complication of influenza and other respiratory viral infections, but the mechanisms underlying viral-induced susceptibility to bacterial infections are poorly understood. In particular, it is unclear whether the host's response against the viral infection, independent of the injury caused by the virus, results in impairment of antibacterial host defense. Here, we sought to determine whether the induction of an “antiviral” immune state using various viral recognition receptor ligands was sufficient to result in decreased ability to combat common bacterial pathogens of the lung. Using a mouse model, animals were administered polyinosine-polycytidylic acid (poly I:C) or Toll-like 7 ligand (imiquimod or gardiquimod) intranasally, followed by intratracheal challenge with Streptococcus pneumoniae. We found that animals pre-exposed to poly I:C displayed impaired bacterial clearance and increased mortality. Poly I:C-exposed animals also had decreased ability to clear methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Furthermore, we showed that activation of Toll-like receptor (TLR)3 and Retinoic acid inducible gene (RIG-I)/Cardif pathways, which recognize viral nucleic acids in the form of dsRNA, both contribute to poly I:C mediated impairment of bacterial clearance. Finally, we determined that poly I:C administration resulted in significant induction of type I interferons (IFNs), whereas the elimination of type I IFN signaling improved clearance and survival following secondary bacterial pneumonia. Collectively, these results indicate that in the lung, poly I:C administration is sufficient to impair pulmonary host defense against clinically important gram-positive bacterial pathogens, which appears to be mediated by type I IFNs.
PMCID: PMC3433467  PMID: 22962579
8.  Synergistic TLR2/6 and TLR9 Activation Protects Mice against Lethal Influenza Pneumonia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30596.
Lower respiratory tract infections caused by influenza A continue to exact unacceptable worldwide mortality, and recent epidemics have emphasized the importance of preventative and containment strategies. We have previously reported that induction of the lungs' intrinsic defenses by aerosolized treatments can protect mice against otherwise lethal challenges with influenza A virus. More recently, we identified a combination of Toll like receptor (TLR) agonists that can be aerosolized to protect mice against bacterial pneumonia. Here, we tested whether this combination of synthetic TLR agonists could enhance the survival of mice infected with influenza A/HK/8/68 (H3N2) or A/California/04/2009 (H1N1) influenza A viruses. We report that the TLR treatment enhanced survival whether given before or after the infectious challenge, and that protection tended to correlate with reductions in viral titer 4 d after infection. Surprisingly, protection was not associated with induction of interferon gene expression. Together, these studies suggest that synergistic TLR interactions can protect against influenza virus infections by mechanisms that may provide the basis for novel therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3267724  PMID: 22299046
9.  Inhibition of Toll-Like Receptor 7- and 9-Mediated Alpha/Beta Interferon Production in Human Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells by Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Measles Virus 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(9):5507-5515.
Human plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC) are key sentinels alerting both innate and adaptive immune responses through production of huge amounts of alpha/beta interferon (IFN). IFN induction in PDC is triggered by outside-in signal transduction pathways through Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) and TLR9 as well as by recognition of cytosolic virus-specific patterns. TLR7 and TLR9 ligands include single-stranded RNA and CpG-rich DNA, respectively, as well as synthetic derivatives thereof which are being evaluated as therapeutic immune modulators promoting Th1 immune responses. Here, we identify the first viruses able to block IFN production by PDC. Both TLR-dependent and -independent IFN responses are abolished in human PDC infected with clinical isolates of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), RSV strain A2, and measles virus Schwarz, in contrast to RSV strain Long, which we previously identified as a potent IFN inducer in human PDC (Hornung et al., J. Immunol. 173:5935-5943, 2004). Notably, IFN synthesis of PDC activated by the TLR7 and TLR9 agonists resiquimod (R848) and CpG oligodeoxynucleotide 2216 is switched off by subsequent infection by RSV A2 and measles virus. The capacity of RSV and measles virus of human PDC to shut down IFN production should contribute to the characteristic features of these viruses, such as Th2-biased immune pathology, immune suppression, and superinfection.
PMCID: PMC1082779  PMID: 15827165
10.  Respiratory Syncytial Virus Activates Innate Immunity through Toll-Like Receptor 2 ▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;83(3):1492-1500.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common cause of infection that is associated with a range of respiratory illnesses, from common cold-like symptoms to serious lower respiratory tract illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis. RSV is the single most important cause of serious lower respiratory tract illness in children <1 year of age. Host innate and acquired immune responses activated following RSV infection have been suspected to contribute to RSV disease. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) activate innate and acquired immunity and are candidates for playing key roles in the host immune response to RSV. Leukocytes express TLRs, including TLR2, TLR6, TLR3, TLR4, and TLR7, that can interact with RSV and promote immune responses following infection. Using knockout mice, we have demonstrated that TLR2 and TLR6 signaling in leukocytes can activate innate immunity against RSV by promoting tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, CCL2 (monocyte chemoattractant protein 1), and CCL5 (RANTES). As previously noted, TLR4 also contributes to cytokine activation (L. M. Haynes, D. D. Moore, E. A. Kurt-Jones, R. W. Finberg, L. J. Anderson, and R. A. Tripp, J. Virol. 75:10730-10737, 2001, and E. A. Kurt-Jones, L. Popova, L. Kwinn, L. M. Haynes, L. P. Jones, R. A. Tripp, E. E. Walsh, M. W. Freeman, D. T. Golenbock, L. J. Anderson, and R. W. Finberg, Nat. Immunol. 1:398-401, 2000). Furthermore, we demonstrated that signals generated following TLR2 and TLR6 activation were important for controlling viral replication in vivo. Additionally, TLR2 interactions with RSV promoted neutrophil migration and dendritic cell activation within the lung. Collectively, these studies indicate that TLR2 is involved in RSV recognition and subsequent innate immune activation.
PMCID: PMC2620898  PMID: 19019963
11.  Inflammasome recognition of influenza virus is essential for adaptive immune responses 
Influenza virus infection is recognized by the innate immune system through Toll like receptor (TLR) 7 and retinoic acid inducible gene I. These two recognition pathways lead to the activation of type I interferons and resistance to infection. In addition, TLR signals are required for the CD4 T cell and IgG2a, but not cytotoxic T lymphocyte, responses to influenza virus infection. In contrast, the role of NOD-like receptors (NLRs) in viral recognition and induction of adaptive immunity to influenza virus is unknown. We demonstrate that respiratory infection with influenza virus results in the activation of NLR inflammasomes in the lung. Although NLRP3 was required for inflammasome activation in certain cell types, CD4 and CD8 T cell responses, as well as mucosal IgA secretion and systemic IgG responses, required ASC and caspase-1 but not NLRP3. Consequently, ASC, caspase-1, and IL-1R, but not NLRP3, were required for protective immunity against flu challenge. Furthermore, we show that caspase-1 inflammasome activation in the hematopoietic, but not stromal, compartment was required to induce protective antiviral immunity. These results demonstrate that in addition to the TLR pathways, ASC inflammasomes play a central role in adaptive immunity to influenza virus.
PMCID: PMC2626661  PMID: 19139171
12.  Inflammasomes as mediators of immunity against influenza virus 
Trends in immunology  2010;32(1):34-41.
Influenza viruses infect a wide range of avian and mammalian host species including humans. Infections with influenza viruses are responsible for major causes of human respiratory infections and mortality. Influenza viruses are recognized by the innate immune system through multiple mechanisms. These include endosomal recognition through the Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) and cytosolic recognition through the retinoic acid inducible gene I (RIG-I). Recent studies also identified the role of NOD-like receptors (NLR) in innate detection of influenza viruses leading to the activation of the inflammasomes. Here, we review the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which influenza virus infection leads to inflammasome activation, and discuss the consequences of such activation in innate and adaptive immune defense against influenza viruses.
PMCID: PMC3017631  PMID: 21147034
13.  Host-Viral Interactions: Role of Pattern Recognition Receptors (PRRs) in Human Pneumovirus Infections 
Pathogens  2013;2(2):10.3390/pathogens2020232.
Acute respiratory tract infection (RTI) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and the majority of RTIs are caused by viruses, among which respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the closely related human metapneumovirus (hMPV) figure prominently. Host innate immune response has been implicated in recognition, protection and immune pathological mechanisms. Host-viral interactions are generally initiated via host recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) of the virus. This recognition occurs through host pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) which are expressed on innate immune cells such as epithelial cells, dendritic cells, macrophages and neutrophils. Multiple PRR families, including Toll-like receptors (TLRs), RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) and NOD-like receptors (NLRs), contribute significantly to viral detection, leading to induction of cytokines, chemokines and type I interferons (IFNs), which subsequently facilitate the eradication of the virus. This review focuses on the current literature on RSV and hMPV infection and the role of PRRs in establishing/mediating the infection in both in vitro and in vivo models. A better understanding of the complex interplay between these two viruses and host PRRs might lead to efficient prophylactic and therapeutic treatments, as well as the development of adequate vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3826451  PMID: 24244872
PRRs; RSV; hMPV; TLR; RLR; NLR; PAMP; IFN; innate immunity
14.  Influenza-induced innate immunity: regulators of viral replication, respiratory tract pathology & adaptive immunity 
Future virology  2011;6(8):951-962.
Influenza virus infections usually cause mild to moderately severe respiratory disease, however some infections, like those involving the avian H5N1 virus, can cause massive viral pneumonia, systemic disease and death. The innate immune response of respiratory tract resident cells is the first line of defense and limits virus replication. Enhanced cytokine and chemokine production following infection, however, appears to underlie much of the pathology that develops after infection with highly pathogenic strains. A so-called `cytokine storm' can damage the lung tissue and cause systemic disease, despite the control of viral replication. By summarizing current knowledge of the innate responses mounted to influenza infection, this review highlights the importance of the respiratory tract epithelial cells as regulators of innate and adaptive immunity to influenza virus.
PMCID: PMC3168512  PMID: 21909336
antiviral immunity; cytokine; cytokine storm; influenza A; innate immunity; lung epithelium; respiratory tract; type I IFN; virulence
15.  The role of toll-like receptors in acute and chronic lung inflammation 
By virtue of its direct contact with the environment, the lung is constantly challenged by infectious and non-infectious stimuli that necessitate a robust yet highly controlled host response coordinated by the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. Mammalian Toll-like receptors (TLRs) function as crucial sentinels of microbial and non-infectious antigens throughout the respiratory tract and mediate host innate immunity. Selective induction of inflammatory responses to harmful environmental exposures and tolerance to innocuous antigens are required to maintain tissue homeostasis and integrity. Conversely, dysregulated innate immune responses manifest as sustained and self-perpetuating tissue damage rather than controlled tissue repair. In this article we review aspects of Toll-like receptor function that are relevant to the development of acute lung injury and chronic obstructive lung diseases as well as resistance to frequently associated microbial infections.
PMCID: PMC3003652  PMID: 21108806
16.  Poly (I:C), an agonist of toll-like receptor-3, inhibits replication of the Chikungunya virus in BEAS-2B cells 
Virology Journal  2012;9:114.
Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and its mimic, polyinosinic acid: polycytidylic acid [Poly (I:C)], are recognized by toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) and induce interferon (IFN)-β in many cell types. Poly (I:C) is the most potent IFN inducer. In in vivo mouse studies, intraperitoneal injection of Poly (I:C) elicited IFN-α/β production and natural killer (NK) cells activation. The TLR3 pathway is suggested to contribute to innate immune responses against many viruses, including influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, herpes simplex virus 2, and murine cytomegalovirus. In Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection, the viruses are cleared within 7–10 days postinfection before adaptive immune responses emerge. The innate immune response is important for CHIKV clearance.
The effects of Poly (I:C) on the replication of CHIKV in human bronchial epithelial cells, BEAS-2B, were studied. Poly (I:C) suppressed cytopathic effects (CPE) induced by CHIKV infection in BEAS-2B cells in the presence of Poly (I:C) and inhibited the replication of CHIKV in the cells. The virus titers of Poly (I:C)-treated cells were much lower compared with those of untreated cells. CHIKV infection and Poly (I:C) treatment of BEAS-2B cells induced the production of IFN-β and increased the expression of anti-viral genes, including IFN-α, IFN-β, MxA, and OAS. Both Poly (I:C) and CHIKV infection upregulate the expression of TLR3 in BEAS-2B cells.
CHIKV is sensitive to innate immune response induced by Poly (I:C). The inhibition of CHIKV replication by Poly (I:C) may be through the induction of TLR3, which triggers the production of IFNs and other anti-viral genes. The innate immune response is important to clear CHIKV in infected cells.
PMCID: PMC3490739  PMID: 22698190
Chikungunya virus; Poly (I:C); BEAS-2B cells; TLR3
17.  Preexposure to CpG Protects against the Delayed Effects of Neonatal Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(19):10456-10461.
Severe respiratory viral infection in early life is associated with recurrent wheeze and asthma in later childhood. Neonatal immune responses tend to be skewed toward T helper 2 (Th2) responses, which may contribute to the development of a pathogenic recall response to respiratory infection. Since neonatal Th2 skewing can be modified by stimulation with Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands, we investigated the effect of exposure to CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (TLR9 ligands) prior to neonatal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in mice. CpG preexposure was protective against enhanced disease during secondary adult RSV challenge, with a reduction in viral load and an increase in Th1 responses. A similar Th1 switch and reduction in disease were observed if CpG was administered in the interval between neonatal infection and challenge. In neonates, CpG pretreatment led to a transient increase in expression of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII) and CD80 on CD11c-positive cells and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production by NK cells after RSV infection, suggesting that the protective effects may be mediated by antigen-presenting cells (APC) and NK cells. We conclude that the adverse effects of early-life respiratory viral infection on later lung health might be mitigated by conditions that promote TLR activation in the infant lung.
PMCID: PMC3457284  PMID: 22811525
18.  Decreased Toll-like receptor 8 expression and lower TNF-alpha synthesis in infants with acute RSV infection 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):143.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are part of the innate immune system, able to recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns and activate immune system upon pathogen challenge. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a RNA virus particularly detrimental in infancy. It could cause severe lower respiratory tract disease and recurrent infections related to inadequate development of anti-viral immunity. The reason could be inadequate multiple TLRs engagement, including TLR8 in recognition of single-stranded viral RNA and diminished synthesis of inflammatory mediators due to a lower expression.
Intracellular TLR8 expression in peripheral blood monocytes from RSV-infected infants was profiled and compared to healthy adults and age matched controls. Whether the observed difference in TLR8 expression is a transitory effect, infants in convalescent phase (4-6 weeks later) were retested. Specific TLR8-mediated TNF-α production in monocytes during an acute and convalescent phase was analyzed.
RSV-infected and healthy infants had lower percentage of TLR8-expressing monocytes than healthy adults whereas decreased of TLR8 protein levels were detected only for RSV-infected infant group. Lower protein levels of TLR8 in monocytes from RSV-infected infants, compared to healthy infants, negatively correlated with respiratory frequency and resulted in lower TNF-α synthesis upon a specific TLR8 stimulation. In the convalescent phase, levels of TLR8 increased, accompanied by increased TNF-α synthesis compared to acute infection.
Lower TLR8 expression observed in monocytes, during an acute RSV infection, might have a dampening impact on early anti-viral cytokine production necessary to control RSV replication, and subsequently initiate an adaptive Th1 type immune response leading to severe disease in infected infants.
PMCID: PMC2974671  PMID: 20946625
19.  Modulation of Respiratory TLR3-Anti-Viral Response by Probiotic Microorganisms: Lessons Learned from Lactobacillus rhamnosus CRL1505 
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract illness in infants and young children. Host immune response is implicated in both protective and immunopathological mechanisms during RSV infection. Activation of Toll-like receptor (TLR)-3 in innate immune cells by RSV can induce airway inflammation, protective immune response, and pulmonary immunopathology. A clear understanding of RSV–host interaction is important for the development of novel and effective therapeutic strategies. Several studies have centered on whether probiotic microorganisms with the capacity to stimulate the immune system (immunobiotics) might sufficiently stimulate the common mucosal immune system to improve defenses in the respiratory tract. In this regard, it was demonstrated that some orally administered immunobiotics do have the ability to stimulate respiratory immunity and increase resistance to viral infections. Moreover, during the last decade scientists have significantly advanced in the knowledge of the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the protective effect of immunobiotics in the respiratory tract. This review examines the most recent advances dealing with the use of immunobiotic bacteria to improve resistance against viral respiratory infections. More specifically, the article discuss the mechanisms involved in the capacity of the immunobiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus CRL1505 to modulate the TLR3-mediated immune response in the respiratory tract and to increase the resistance to RSV infection. In addition, we review the role of interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-10 in the immunoregulatory effect of the CRL1505 strain that has been successfully used for reducing incidence and morbidity of viral airways infections in children.
PMCID: PMC4026741  PMID: 24860569
Lactobacillus rhamnosus CRL1505; TLR3; respiratory immunity; respiratory syncytial virus; immunobiotics
20.  Increased Susceptibility for Superinfection with Streptococcus pneumoniae during Influenza Virus Infection Is Not Caused by TLR7-Mediated Lymphopenia 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4840.
Influenza A virus (IAV) causes respiratory tract infections leading to recurring epidemics with high rates of morbidity and mortality. In the past century IAV induced several world-wide pandemics, the most aggressive occurring in 1918 with a death toll of 20–50 million cases. However, infection with IAV alone is rarely fatal. Instead, death associated with IAV is usually mediated by superinfection with bacteria, mainly Streptococcus pneumoniae. The reasons for this increased susceptibility to bacterial superinfection have not been fully elucidated. We previously demonstrated that triggering of TLR7 causes immune incompetence in mice by induction of lymphopenia. IAV is recognized by TLR7 and infections can lead to lymphopenia. Since lymphocytes are critical to protect from S. pneumoniae it has long been speculated that IAV-induced lymphopenia might mediate increased susceptibility to superinfection. Here we show that sub-lethal pre-infections of mice with IAV-PR8/A/34 strongly increased their mortality in non-lethal SP infections, surprisingly despite the absence of detectable lymphopenia. In contrast to SP-infection alone co-infected animals were unable to control the exponential growth of SP. However, lymphopenia forced by TLR7-triggering or antibody-mediated neutropenia did not increase SP-susceptibility or compromise the ability to control SP growth. Thus, the immune-incompetence caused by transient lympho- or leukopenia is not sufficient to inhibit potent antibacterial responses of the host and mechanisms distinct from leukodepletion must account for increased bacterial superinfection during viral defence.
PMCID: PMC2654096  PMID: 19290047
21.  Mechanisms of Neutrophil Accumulation in the Lungs Against Bacteria 
Bacterial lung diseases are a major cause of morbidity and mortality both in immunocompromised and in immunocompetent individuals. Neutrophil accumulation, a pathological hallmark of bacterial diseases, is critical to host defense, but may also cause acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome. Toll-like receptors, nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptors, transcription factors, cytokines, and chemokines play essential roles in neutrophil sequestration in the lungs. This review highlights our current understanding of the role of these molecules in the lungs during bacterial infection and their therapeutic potential. We also discuss emerging data on cholesterol and ethanol as environmentally modifiable factors that may impact neutrophil-mediated pulmonary innate host defense. Understanding the precise molecular mechanisms leading to neutrophil influx in the lungs during bacterial infection is critical for the development of more effective therapeutic and prophylactic strategies to control the excessive host response to infection.
PMCID: PMC2911570  PMID: 19738160
bacterial pneumonia; lung inflammation; acute lung injury
22.  Differential Type I Interferon Induction by Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Influenza A Virus In Vivo▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(18):9790-9800.
Type I interferon (IFN) induction is an immediate response to virus infection, and very high levels of these cytokines are produced when the Toll-like receptors (TLRs) expressed at high levels by plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are triggered by viral nucleic acids. Unlike many RNA viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) does not appear to activate pDCs through their TLRs and it is not clear how this difference affects IFN-α/β induction in vivo. In this study, we investigated type I IFN production triggered by RSV or influenza A virus infection of BALB/c mice and found that while both viruses induced IFN-α/β production by pDCs in vitro, only influenza virus infection could stimulate type I IFN synthesis by pDCs in vivo. In situ hybridization studies demonstrated that the infected respiratory epithelium was a major source of IFN-α/β in response to either infection, but in pDC-depleted animals only type I IFN induction by influenza virus was impaired.
PMCID: PMC2045394  PMID: 17626092
23.  Influenza H5N1 virus infection of polarized human alveolar epithelial cells and lung microvascular endothelial cells 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):102.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus is entrenched in poultry in Asia and Africa and continues to infect humans zoonotically causing acute respiratory disease syndrome and death. There is evidence that the virus may sometimes spread beyond respiratory tract to cause disseminated infection. The primary target cell for HPAI H5N1 virus in human lung is the alveolar epithelial cell. Alveolar epithelium and its adjacent lung microvascular endothelium form host barriers to the initiation of infection and dissemination of influenza H5N1 infection in humans. These are polarized cells and the polarity of influenza virus entry and egress as well as the secretion of cytokines and chemokines from the virus infected cells are likely to be central to the pathogenesis of human H5N1 disease.
To study influenza A (H5N1) virus replication and host innate immune responses in polarized primary human alveolar epithelial cells and lung microvascular endothelial cells and its relevance to the pathogenesis of human H5N1 disease.
We use an in vitro model of polarized primary human alveolar epithelial cells and lung microvascular endothelial cells grown in transwell culture inserts to compare infection with influenza A subtype H1N1 and H5N1 viruses via the apical or basolateral surfaces.
We demonstrate that both influenza H1N1 and H5N1 viruses efficiently infect alveolar epithelial cells from both apical and basolateral surface of the epithelium but release of newly formed virus is mainly from the apical side of the epithelium. In contrast, influenza H5N1 virus, but not H1N1 virus, efficiently infected polarized microvascular endothelial cells from both apical and basolateral aspects. This provides a mechanistic explanation for how H5N1 virus may infect the lung from systemic circulation. Epidemiological evidence has implicated ingestion of virus-contaminated foods as the source of infection in some instances and our data suggests that viremia, secondary to, for example, gastro-intestinal infection, can potentially lead to infection of the lung. HPAI H5N1 virus was a more potent inducer of cytokines (e.g. IP-10, RANTES, IL-6) in comparison to H1N1 virus in alveolar epithelial cells, and these virus-induced chemokines were secreted onto both the apical and basolateral aspects of the polarized alveolar epithelium.
The predilection of viruses for different routes of entry and egress from the infected cell is important in understanding the pathogenesis of influenza H5N1 infection and may help unravel the pathogenesis of human H5N1 disease.
PMCID: PMC2780994  PMID: 19874627
24.  Increased MDSC Accumulation and Th2 Biased Response to Influenza A Virus Infection in the Absence of TLR7 in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25242.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play an important role in the induction of innate and adaptive immune response against influenza A virus (IAV) infection; however, the role of Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) during the innate immune response to IAV infection and the cell types affected by the absence of TLR7 are not clearly understood. In this study, we show that myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) accumulate in the lungs of TLR7 deficient mice more so than in wild-type C57Bl/6 mice, and display increased cytokine expression. Furthermore, there is an increase in production of Th2 cytokines by TLR7-/- compared with wildtype CD4+ T-cells in vivo, leading to a Th2 polarized humoral response. Our findings indicate that TLR7 modulates the accumulation of MDSCs during an IAV infection in mice, and that lack of TLR7 signaling leads to a Th2-biased response.
PMCID: PMC3179470  PMID: 21966467
25.  Innate immunity to influenza virus: implications for future therapy 
Innate immunity is critical in the early containment of influenza virus infection. The innate response is surprisingly complex. A variety of soluble innate inhibitors in respiratory secretions provide an initial barrier to infection. Dendritic cells, phagocytes and natural killer cells mediate viral clearance and promote further innate and adaptive responses. Toll-like receptors 3 and 7 and cytoplasmic RNA sensors are critical for activating these responses. In general, the innate response restricts viral replication without injuring the lung; however, the 1918 pandemic and H5N1 strains cause more profound, possibly harmful, innate responses. In this review, we discuss the implications of burgeoning knowledge of innate immunity for therapy of influenza.
PMCID: PMC2743031  PMID: 19756245
collectin; defensin; influenza; innate immunity; Toll-like receptor

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