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1.  Role of CCL5 (RANTES) in Viral Lung Disease 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(16):8151-8157.
CCL5/RANTES is a key proinflammatory chemokine produced by virus-infected epithelial cells and present in respiratory secretions of asthmatics. To examine the role of CCL5 in viral lung disease, we measured its production during primary respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection and during secondary infection after sensitizing vaccination that induces Th2-mediated eosinophilia. A first peak of CCL5 mRNA and protein production was seen at 18 to 24 h of RSV infection, before significant lymphocyte recruitment occurred. Treatment in vivo with Met-RANTES (a competitive chemokine receptor blocker) throughout primary infection decreased CD4+ and CD8+ cell recruitment and increased viral replication. In RSV-infected, sensitized mice with eosinophilic disease, CCL5 production was further augmented; Met-RANTES treatment again reduced inflammatory cell recruitment and local cytokine production. A second wave of CCL5 production occurred on day 7, attributable to newly recruited T cells. Paradoxically, mice treated with Met-RANTES during primary infection demonstrated increased cellular infiltration during reinfection. We therefore show that RSV induces CCL5 production in the lung and this causes the recruitment of RSV-specific cells, including those making additional CCL5. If this action is blocked with Met-RANTES, inflammation decreases and viral clearance is delayed. However, the exact effects of chemokine modulation depend critically on time of administration, a factor that may potentially complicate the use of chemokine blockers in inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC1563837  PMID: 16873271
2.  The Chemokine MIP1α/CCL3 Determines Pathology in Primary RSV Infection by Regulating the Balance of T Cell Populations in the Murine Lung 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9381.
CD8 T cells assist in the clearance of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection from the lungs. However, disease after RSV infection is in part caused by excessive T cell activity, and a balance is therefore needed between beneficial and harmful cellular immune responses. The chemokine CCL3 (MIP1α) is produced following RSV infection and is broadly chemotactic for both T cells and natural killer (NK) cells. We therefore investigated its role in RSV disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
CCL3 was produced biphasically, in both the early (day 1) and late (day 6–7) stages of infection. CCL3 depletion did not alter the recruitment of natural killer (NK) cells to the lungs during the early stage, but depletion did affect the later adaptive phase. While fewer T cells were recruited to the lungs of either CCL3 knockout or anti-CCL3 treated RSV infected mice, more RSV-specific pro-inflammatory T cells were recruited to the lung when CCL3 responses were impaired. This increase in RSV-specific pro-inflammatory T cells was accompanied by increased weight loss and illness after RSV infection.
CCL3 regulates the balance of T cell populations in the lung and can alter the outcome of RSV infection. Understanding the role of inflammatory mediators in the recruitment of pathogenic T cells to the lungs may lead to novel methods to control RSV disease.
PMCID: PMC2827540  PMID: 20195359
3.  The Number of RSV-Specific Memory CD8 T Cells in the Lung is Critical for their Ability to Inhibit Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Vaccine-Enhanced Pulmonary Eosinophilia1 
Children that were administered a formalin-inactivated respiratory syncytial virus (FI-RSV) vaccine experienced enhanced respiratory disease, including pulmonary eosinophilia, after contracting a natural RSV infection. RSV vaccine-enhanced disease can be mimicked in BALB/c mice immunized with either FI-RSV or with a recombinant vaccinia virus (vacv) expressing the RSV attachment (G) protein. We have recently demonstrated that memory CD8 T cells directed against the RSV immunodominant M282−90 epitope inhibit the development of pulmonary eosinophilia in either vacvG- or FI-RSV-immunized mice by reducing the total number of Th2 cells in the lung after RSV challenge. Here we show that memory CD8 T cells specific to a subdominant epitope within the RSV fusion (F) protein fail to inhibit the development of pulmonary eosinophilia after RSV challenge of mice previously co-immunized with vacvF and with either vacvG or FI-RSV. We observed that the inability of RSV F85-specific memory CD8 T cells to inhibit the development of pulmonary eosinophilia was largely due to an inadequate total number of F85-specific memory CD8 T cells in the lung at early times after RSV challenge. Increasing the number of F85-specific memory CD8 T cells after immunization grants them the ability to inhibit RSV vaccine-enhanced pulmonary eosinophilia. Moreover, we demonstrate that RSV-specific memory CD8 T cells, when present in sufficient numbers, inhibit the production of the Th2-associated chemokines CCL17 and CCL22. Taken together, these results indicate that RSV-specific memory CD8 T cells may alter the trafficking of Th2 cells and eosinophils into the lung.
PMCID: PMC2587004  PMID: 19017987
Cytotoxic T cells; Th1/Th2 T cells; Eosinophils; Lung; Vaccination
4.  Pulmonary eosinophils and their role in immunopathologic responses to formalin-inactivated pneumonia virus of mice 
Enhanced disease is the term used to describe the aberrant Th2 skewed responses to naturally-acquired human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) infection observed in individuals vaccinated with formalin-inactivated viral antigens. Here we explore this paradigm with pneumonia virus of mice (PVM), a pathogen that faithfully reproduces features of severe hRSV infection in a rodent host. We demonstrate that PVM infection in mice vaccinated with formalin-inactivated antigens from PVM-infected cells (PVM Ags) yields Th2-skewed hypersensitivity, analogous to that observed in response to hRSV. Specifically, we detect elevated levels of IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and eosinophils in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid of PVM-infected mice that were vaccinated with PVM Ags, but not among mice vaccinated with formalin-inactivated antigens from uninfected cells (Ctrl Ags). Interestingly, infection in PVM Ag-vaccinated mice was associated with a ~10-fold reduction in lung virus titer and protection against weight loss when compared to infected mice vaccinated with Ctrl Ags, despite the absence of serum neutralizing antibodies. Given recent findings documenting a role for eosinophils in promoting clearance of hRSV in vivo, we explored the role of eosinophils in altering the pathogenesis of disease with eosinophil-deficient mice. We found that eosinophil deficiency had no impact on virus titer in PVM Ags-vaccinated mice, nor on weight loss or levels of CCL11 (eotaxin-1), interferon-γ, interleukin (IL)-5, or IL-13 in BAL fluid. However, levels of both IL-4 and CCL3 (macrophage inflammatory protein-1α) in BAL fluid were markedly diminished in PVM Ag-vaccinated, PVM-infected eosinophil-deficient mice when compared to wild type controls (246 words).
PMCID: PMC2754814  PMID: 19542471
eosinophils; cytokines; inflammation; viral infection; lung
5.  Whole Blood Gene Expression Profiles to Assess Pathogenesis and Disease Severity in Infants with Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001549.
In this study, Mejias and colleagues found that specific blood RNA profiles of infants with RSV LRTI allowed for specific diagnosis, better understanding of disease pathogenesis, and better assessment of disease severity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of viral lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) and hospitalization in infants. Mostly because of the incomplete understanding of the disease pathogenesis, there is no licensed vaccine, and treatment remains symptomatic. We analyzed whole blood transcriptional profiles to characterize the global host immune response to acute RSV LRTI in infants, to characterize its specificity compared with influenza and human rhinovirus (HRV) LRTI, and to identify biomarkers that can objectively assess RSV disease severity.
Methods and Findings
This was a prospective observational study over six respiratory seasons including a cohort of infants hospitalized with RSV (n = 135), HRV (n = 30), and influenza (n = 16) LRTI, and healthy age- and sex-matched controls (n = 39). A specific RSV transcriptional profile was identified in whole blood (training cohort, n = 45 infants; Dallas, Texas, US) and validated in three different cohorts (test cohort, n = 46, Dallas, Texas, US; validation cohort A, n = 16, Turku, Finland; validation cohort B, n = 28, Columbus, Ohio, US) with high sensitivity (94% [95% CI 87%–98%]) and specificity (98% [95% CI 88%–99%]). It classified infants with RSV LRTI versus HRV or influenza LRTI with 95% accuracy. The immune dysregulation induced by RSV (overexpression of neutrophil, inflammation, and interferon genes, and suppression of T and B cell genes) persisted beyond the acute disease, and immune dysregulation was greatly impaired in younger infants (<6 mo). We identified a genomic score that significantly correlated with outcomes of care including a clinical disease severity score and, more importantly, length of hospitalization and duration of supplemental O2.
Blood RNA profiles of infants with RSV LRTI allow specific diagnosis, better understanding of disease pathogenesis, and assessment of disease severity. This study opens new avenues for biomarker discovery and identification of potential therapeutic or preventive targets, and demonstrates that large microarray datasets can be translated into a biologically meaningful context and applied to the clinical setting.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs)—bacterial and viral infections of the lungs and airways (the tubes that take oxygen-rich air to the lungs)—are major causes of illness and death in children worldwide. Pneumonia (infection of the lungs) alone is responsible for 14% of all child deaths. The leading cause of viral LTRIs in children is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is readily transmitted from person to person by direct contact with nasal fluids or airborne droplets. Almost all children have an RSV infection before their second birthday, but most have only minor symptoms similar to those of a common cold and are cared for at home. Unfortunately, some children develop more serious conditions when they become infected with RSV, such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis (swelling and mucus build-up in the bronchioles, the smallest air passages in the lungs). These children have to be admitted to the hospital for supportive care—there is no specific treatment for RSV infection—such as the provision of supplemental oxygen.
Why Was This Study Done?
The lack of a treatment (and of a vaccine) for RSV is largely due to our incomplete understanding of the cellular events and reactions, including the host immune response, that occur during the development of an RSV infection (disease pathogenesis). Moreover, based on physical examination and available diagnostic tools, it is impossible to predict which children infected with RSV will develop a serious condition that requires hospitalization and which ones can be safely nursed at home. Here, the researchers use microarrays to analyze the global host response to acute RSV LTRI in infants, to define gene expression patterns that are specific to RSV infection rather than infection with other common respiratory viruses, and to identify biomarkers that indicate the severity of RSV infection. “Microarray” analysis allows researchers to examine gene expression patterns (“RNA transcriptional profiles”) in, for example, whole blood; a biomarker is a molecule whose level in bodily fluids or tissues indicates how a disease might develop and helps with patient classification.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers compared the RNA transcriptional profile in whole blood taken from children less than two years old hospitalized with RSV, human rhinovirus, or influenza virus infection (rhinovirus and influenza are two additional viral causes of LRTI), and from healthy infants. Using “statistical group comparisons,” they identified more than 2,000 transcripts that were differentially expressed in blood from 45 infants with RSV infection and from 14 healthy matched controls. Genes related to interferon function (interferons are released by host cells in response to the presence of disease-causing organisms) and neutrophil function (neutrophils are immune system cells that, like interferons, are involved in the innate immune response, the body's first line of defense against infection) were among the most overexpressed genes in infants infected with RSV. Genes regulating T and B cells (components of the adaptive immune response, the body's second-line of defense against infection) were among the most underexpressed genes. This specific transcriptional profile, which was validated in three additional groups of infants, accurately distinguished between infants infected with RSV and those infected with human rhinovirus or influenza virus. Finally, a “molecular distance to health” score (a numerical score that quantifies the transcriptional perturbation associated with an illness) was correlated with the clinical disease severity score of the study participants, with how long they needed supplemental oxygen, and with their duration of hospitalization.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that it might be possible to use whole blood RNA transcriptional profiles to distinguish between infants infected with RSV and those with other viruses that commonly cause LRTI. Moreover, if these findings can be replicated in more patients (including non-hospitalized children), gene expression profiling might provide a strategy for triaging patients with RSV infections when they first present to an emergency department and for monitoring clinical changes during the course of the infection, particularly given the development of molecular tools that might soon enable the “real time” acquisition of transcriptional profiles in the clinical setting. Finally, although certain aspects of the study design limit the accuracy and generalizability of the study's findings, these data provide new insights into the pathogenesis of RSV infection and open new avenues for the discovery of biomarkers for RSV infection and for the identification of therapeutic and preventative targets.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Peter Openshaw
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about RSV infection
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides information about the respiratory system and about RSV infections
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about bronchiolitis
The British Lung Foundation also provides information on RSV and on bronchiolitis
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about RSV infections and about pneumonia (in English and Spanish); the MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on bronchiolitis (in English and Spanish)
PATH is an international non-profit organization investigating new RSV vaccines
PMCID: PMC3825655  PMID: 24265599
6.  Differential Role for TLR3 in Respiratory Syncytial Virus-Induced Chemokine Expression 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(6):3350-3357.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract infection in young infants worldwide. Previous studies have reported that the induction of interleukin-8/CXCL8 and RANTES/CCL5 correlates with disease severity in humans. The production of these chemokines is elicited by viral replication and is NF-κB dependent. RSV, a negative-sense single-stranded RNA virus, requires full-length positive-sense RNA for synthesis of new viral RNA. The aim of our studies was to investigate whether active viral replication by RSV could evoke chemokine production through TLR3-mediated signaling pathways. In TLR3-transfected HEK 293 cells, live RSV preferentially activated chemokines in both a time- and dose-dependent manner compared to vector controls. RSV was also shown to upregulate TLR3 in human lung fibroblasts and epithelial cells (MRC-5 and A549). Targeting the expression of TLR3 with small interfering RNA decreased synthesis of IP-10/CXCL10 and CCL5 but did not significantly reduce levels of CXCL8. Blocking the expression of the adapter protein MyD88 established a role for MyD88 in CXCL8 production, whereas CCL5 synthesis was found to be MyD88 independent. Production of CCL5 by RSV was induced directly through TLR3 signaling pathways and did not require interferon (IFN) signaling through the IFN-α/β receptor. TLR3 did not affect viral replication, since equivalent viral loads were recovered from RSV-infected cells despite altered TLR3 expression. Taken together, our studies indicate that TLR3 mediates inflammatory cytokine and chemokine production in RSV-infected epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC1075725  PMID: 15731229
7.  Immunoprotectivity of HLA-A2 CTL Peptides Derived from Respiratory Syncytial Virus Fusion Protein in HLA-A2 Transgenic Mouse 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25500.
Identification of HLA-restricted CD8+ T cell epitopes is important to study RSV-induced immunity and illness. We algorithmically analyzed the sequence of the fusion protein (F) of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and generated synthetic peptides that can potentially bind to HLA-A*0201. Four out of the twenty-five 9-mer peptides tested: peptides 3 (F33–41), 13 (F214–222), 14 (F273–281), and 23 (F559–567), were found to bind to HLA-A*0201 with moderate to high affinity and were capable of inducing IFN-γ and IL-2 secretion in lymphocytes from HLA-A*0201 transgenic (HLA-Tg) mice pre-immunized with RSV or recombinant adenovirus expressing RSV F. HLA-Tg mice were immunized with these four peptides and were found to induce both Th1 and CD8+ T cell responses in in vitro secondary recall. Effector responses induced by these peptides were observed to confer differential protection against live RSV challenge. These peptides also caused better recovery of body weight loss induced by RSV. A significant reduction of lung viral load was observed in mice immunized with peptide 23, which appeared to enhance the levels of inflammatory chemokines (CCL17, CCL22, and IL-18) but did not increase eosinophil infiltration in the lungs. Whereas, significant reduction of infiltrated eosinophils induced by RSV infection was found in mice pre-immunized with peptide 13. Our results suggest that HLA-A2-restricted epitopes of RSV F protein could be useful for the development of epitope-based RSV vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3183052  PMID: 21980478
8.  Differential Chemokine Expression following Respiratory Virus Infection Reflects Th1- or Th2-Biased Immunopathology 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(9):4521-4527.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major viral pathogen of infants that also reinfects adults. During RSV infection, inflammatory host cell recruitment to the lung plays a central role in determining disease outcome. Chemokines mediate cell recruitment to sites of inflammation and are influenced by, and influence, the production of cytokines. We therefore compared chemokine production in a mouse model of immunopathogenic RSV infection in which either Th1 or Th2 immunopathology is induced by prior sensitization to individual RSV proteins. Chemokine expression profiles were profoundly affected by the nature of the pulmonary immunopathology: “Th2” immunopathology in BALB/c mice was associated with increased and prolonged expression of CCL2 (MCP-1), CXCL10 (IP-10), and CCL11 (eotaxin) starting within 24 h of challenge. C57BL/6 mice with “Th2” pathology (enabled by a deficiency of CD8+ cells) also showed increased CCL2 production. No differences in chemokine receptor expression were detected. Chemokine blockers may therefore be of use for children with bronchiolitis.
PMCID: PMC1472012  PMID: 16611912
9.  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
10.  Cell-Specific Expression of RANTES, MCP-1, and MIP-1α by Lower Airway Epithelial Cells and Eosinophils Infected with Respiratory Syncytial Virus 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(6):4756-4764.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major cause of acute bronchiolitis in infancy, a syndrome characterized by wheezing, respiratory distress, and the pathologic findings of peribronchial mononuclear cell infiltration and release of inflammatory mediators by basophil and eosinophil leukocytes. Composition and activation of this cellular response are thought to rely on the discrete target cell selectivity of C-C chemokines. We demonstrate that infection in vitro of human epithelial cells of the lower respiratory tract by RSV induced dose- and time-dependent increases in mRNA and protein secretion for RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T-cell expressed and presumably secreted), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α). Production of MCP-1 and MIP-1α was selectively localized only in epithelial cells of the small airways and lung. Exposure of epithelial cells to gamma interferon (IFN-γ), in combination with RSV infection, induced a significant increase in RANTES production that was synergistic with respect to that obtained by RSV infection or IFN-γ treatment alone. Epithelial cell-derived chemokines exhibited a strong chemotactic activity for normal human blood eosinophils. Furthermore, eosinophils were susceptible to RSV and released RANTES and MIP-1α as a result of infection. Therefore, the inflammatory process in RSV-induced bronchiolitis appears to be triggered by the infection of epithelial cells and further amplified via mechanisms driven by IFN-γ and by the secretion of eosinophil chemokines.
PMCID: PMC110009  PMID: 9573240
11.  Development of Safe and Effective RSV Vaccine by Modified CD4 Epitope in G Protein Core Fragment (Gcf) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94269.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of respiratory tract infection in infants and young children worldwide, but currently no safe and effective vaccine is available. The RSV G glycoprotein (RSVG), a major attachment protein, is an important target for the induction of protective immune responses during RSV infection. However, it has been thought that a CD4+ T cell epitope (a.a. 183–195) within RSVG is associated with pathogenic pulmonary eosinophilia. To develop safe and effective RSV vaccine using RSV G protein core fragment (Gcf), several Gcf variants resulting from modification to CD4+ T cell epitope were constructed. Mice were immunized with each variant Gcf, and the levels of RSV-specific serum IgG were measured. At day 4 post-challenge with RSV subtype A or B, lung viral titers and pulmonary eosinophilia were determined and changes in body weight were monitored. With wild type Gcf derived from RSV A2 (wtAGcf), although RSV A subtype-specific immune responses were induced, vaccine-enhanced disease characterized by excessive pulmonary eosinophil recruitment and body weight loss were evident, whereas wtGcf from RSV B1 (wtBGcf) induced RSV B subtype-specific immune responses without the signs of vaccine-enhanced disease. Mice immunized with Th-mGcf, a fusion protein consisting CD4+ T cell epitope from RSV F (F51–66) conjugated to mGcf that contains alanine substitutions at a.a. position 185 and 188, showed higher levels of RSV-specific IgG response than mice immunized with mGcf. Both wtAGcf and Th-mGcf provided complete protection against RSV A2 and partial protection against RSV B. Importantly, mice immunized with Th-mGcf did not develop vaccine-enhanced disease following RSV challenge. Immunization of Th-mGcf provided protection against RSV infection without the symptom of vaccine-enhanced disease. Our study provides a novel strategy to develop a safe and effective mucosal RSV vaccine by manipulating the CD4+ T cell epitope within RSV G protein.
PMCID: PMC3988050  PMID: 24736750
Lower respiratory tract infections caused by the paramyxoviruses human metapneumovirus (hMPV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are characterized by short-lasting virus-specific immunity and often long term airway morbidity, both of which may be the result of alterations in the antigen presenting function of the lung which follow these infections. In this study, we investigated whether hMPV and RSV experimental infections alter the phenotype and function of dendritic cells (DC) subsets which are recruited to the lung. Characterization of lung DC trafficking demonstrated a differential recruitment of plasmacytoid DC (pDC), conventional DC (cDC) and interferon-producing killer DC (IKDC) to the lung and draining lymph nodes after hMPV and RSV infection. In vitro infection of lung DC indicated that in pDC, production of IFN-α, TNF-α, and CCL5 was induced only by hMPV while CCL3 and CCL4 were induced by both viruses. In cDC, a similar repertoire of cytokines was induced by hMPV and RSV, except for IFN-β, which was not induced by RSV. The function of lung pDC was altered following hMPV or RSV infection in vivo, as we demonstrated a reduced capacity of lung pDC to produce IFN-α as well as other cytokines including IL-6, TNF-α, CCL2, CCL3 and CCL4 in response to TLR9 agonist. Moreover, we observed an impaired capacity of cDC from infected mice to present Ag to CD4+ T cells, an effect that lasted beyond the acute phase of infection. Our findings suggest that acute paramyxovirus infections can alter the long term immune function of pulmonary DC.
PMCID: PMC2865244  PMID: 19234204
Dendritic cells; Lung; Viral; Cytokines; Cell trafficking
13.  Regulatory T Cells Prevent Th2 Immune Responses and Pulmonary Eosinophilia during Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection in Mice 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(20):10946-10954.
During viral infection, inflammation and recovery are tightly controlled by competing proinflammatory and regulatory immune pathways. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading global cause of infantile bronchiolitis, which is associated with recurrent wheeze and asthma diagnosis in later life. Th2-driven disease has been well described under some conditions for RSV-infected mice. In the present studies, we used the Foxp3DTR mice (which allow specific conditional depletion of Foxp3+ T cells) to investigate the functional effects of regulatory T cells (Tregs) during A2-strain RSV infection. Infected Treg-depleted mice lost significantly more weight than wild-type mice, indicating enhanced disease. This enhancement was characterized by increased cellularity in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and notable lung eosinophilia not seen in control mice. This was accompanied by abundant CD4+ and CD8+ T cells exhibiting an activated phenotype and induction of interleukin 13 (IL-13)- and GATA3-expressing Th2-type CD4+ T cells that remained present in the airways even 14 days after infection. Therefore, Treg cells perform vital anti-inflammatory functions during RSV infection, suppressing pathogenic T cell responses and inhibiting lung eosinophilia. These findings provide additional evidence that dysregulation of normal immune responses to viral infection may contribute to severe RSV disease.
PMCID: PMC3807299  PMID: 23926350
14.  Vβ14+ T Cells Mediate the Vaccine-Enhanced Disease Induced by Immunization with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) G Glycoprotein but Not with Formalin-Inactivated RSV 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(16):8753-8760.
Mice immunized with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) G glycoprotein or with formalin-inactivated RSV (FI-RSV) exhibit severe disease following RSV challenge. This results in type 2 cytokine production and pulmonary eosinophilia, both hallmarks of vaccine-enhanced disease. RSV G-induced T-cell responses were shown to be restricted to CD4+ T cells expressing Vβ14 in the T-cell receptor (TCR), and the deletion of these T cells resulted in less severe disease. We therefore examined the role of Vβ14+ T cells in FI-RSV-induced disease. BALB/c mice were immunized with vaccinia virus expressing secreted RSV G (vvGs) or with FI-RSV. At the time of challenge with live RSV, mice were injected with antibody to the Vβ14 component of the TCR. vvGs-immunized mice treated with anti-Vβ14 had reduced cytokine levels in the lung. Eosinophil recruitment to the lung was also significantly reduced. In contrast, depletion of Vβ14+ T cells in FI-RSV-immunized mice had little impact on cytokine production or pulmonary eosinophilia. An analysis of TCR Vβ chain usage confirmed a bias toward Vβ14 expression on CD4+ T cells from vvGs-immunized mice, whereas the CD4+ T cells in FI-RSV-immunized mice expressed a diverse array of Vβ chains. These data show that although FI-RSV and vvGs induce responses resulting in similar immunopathology, the T-cell repertoire mediating the response is different for each immunogen and suggest that the immune responses elicited by RSV G are not the basis for FI-RSV vaccine-enhanced disease.
PMCID: PMC479099  PMID: 15280483
15.  Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) RNA loads in peripheral blood correlates with disease severity in mice 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):125.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection is usually restricted to the respiratory epithelium. Few studies have documented the presence of RSV in the systemic circulation, however there is no consistent information whether virus detection in the blood correlates with disease severity.
Balb/c mice were inoculated with live RSV, heat-inactivated RSV or medium. A subset of RSV-infected mice was treated with anti-RSV antibody 72 h post-inoculation. RSV RNA loads were measured by PCR in peripheral blood from day 1-21 post-inoculation and were correlated with upper and lower respiratory tract viral loads, the systemic cytokine response, lung inflammation and pulmonary function. Immunohistochemical staining was used to define the localization of RSV antigens in the respiratory tract and peripheral blood.
RSV RNA loads were detected in peripheral blood from day 1 to 14 post-inoculation, peaked on day 5 and significantly correlated with nasal and lung RSV loads, airway obstruction, and blood CCL2 and CXCL1 expression. Treatment with anti-RSV antibody reduced blood RSV RNA loads and improved airway obstruction. Immunostaining identified RSV antigens in alveolar macrophages and peripheral blood monocytes.
RSV RNA was detected in peripheral blood upon infection with live RSV, followed a time-course parallel to viral loads assessed in the respiratory tract and was significantly correlated with RSV-induced airway disease.
PMCID: PMC2946301  PMID: 20843364
16.  Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection: Immune Response, Immunopathogenesis, and Treatment 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  1999;12(2):298-309.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the single most important cause of lower respiratory tract infection during infancy and early childhood. Once RSV infection is established, the host immune response includes the production of virus-neutralizing antibodies and T-cell-specific immunity. The humoral immune response normally results in the development of anti-RSV neutralizing-antibody titers, but these are often suboptimal during an infant’s initial infection. Even when the production of RSV neutralizing antibody following RSV infection is robust, humoral immunity wanes over time. Reinfection during subsequent seasons is common. The cellular immune response to RSV infection is also important for the clearance of virus. This immune response, vital for host defense against RSV, is also implicated in the immunopathogenesis of severe lower respiratory tract RSV bronchiolitis. Many details of the immunology and immunopathologic mechanisms of RSV disease known at present have been learned from rodent models of RSV disease and are discussed in some detail. In addition, the roles of immunoglobulin E, histamine, and eosinophils in the immunopathogenesis of RSV disease are considered. Although the treatment of RSV bronchiolitis is primarily supportive, the role of ribavirin is briefly discussed. Novel approaches to the development of new antiviral drugs with promising anti-RSV activity in vitro are also described.
PMCID: PMC88919  PMID: 10194461
17.  Inhibition of T1/St2 during Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection Prevents T Helper Cell Type 2 (Th2)- but Not Th1-Driven Immunopathology 
T cells secreting interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-5 (T helper cell type 2 [Th2] cells) play a detrimental role in a variety of diseases, but specific methods of regulating their activity remain elusive. T1/ST2 is a surface ligand of the IL-1 receptor family, expressed on Th2- but not on interferon (IFN)-γ–producing Th1 cells. Prior exposure of BALB/c mice to the attachment (G) or fusion (F) protein of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) increases illness severity during intranasal RSV challenge, due to Th2-driven lung eosinophilia and exuberant Th1-driven pulmonary infiltration, respectively. We used these polar models of viral illness to study the recruitment of T1/ST2 cells to the lung and to test the effects of anti-T1/ST2 treatment in vivo. T1/ST2 was present on a subset of CD4+ cells from mice with eosinophilic lung disease. Monoclonal anti-T1/ST2 treatment reduced lung inflammation and the severity of illness in mice with Th2 (but not Th1) immunopathology. These results show that inhibition of T1/ST2 has a specific effect on virally induced Th2 responses and suggests that therapy targeted at this receptor might be of value in treating Th2-driven illness.
PMCID: PMC2193366  PMID: 11283151
bronchiolitis, viral; immunity, mucosal; immunity, cellular; pulmonary infection; eosinophil
18.  Pulmonary Vγ4+ γδ T Cells Have Proinflammatory and Antiviral Effects in Viral Lung Disease1 
Host defenses, while effecting viral clearance, contribute substantially to inflammation and disease. This double action is a substantial obstacle to the development of safe and effective vaccines against many agents, particularly respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV is a common cold virus and the major cause of infantile bronchiolitis worldwide. The role of αβ T cells in RSV-driven immunopathology is well studied, but little is known about the role of “unconventional” T cells. During primary RSV challenge of BALB/c mice, some Vγ7+ γδ T cells were present; however, immunization with a live vaccinia vector expressing RSV F protein substantially enhanced Vγ4+ γδ T cell influx after RSV infection. Harvested early, these cells produced IFN-γ, TNF, and RANTES after ex vivo stimulation. By contrast, those recruited 5 days after challenge made IL-4, IL-5, and IL-10. Depletion of γδ T cells in vivo reduced lung inflammation and disease severity and slightly increased peak viral replication but did not prevent viral clearance. These studies demonstrate a novel role for γδ T cells in the development of immunopathology and cellular influx into the lungs after immunization and RSV challenge. Though a minor population, γδ T cells have a critical influence on disease and are an attractive interventional target in the alleviation of viral lung disease.
PMCID: PMC2646375  PMID: 19124761
19.  Rhinovirus infection of allergen-sensitized and -challenged mice induces eotaxin release from functionally polarized macrophages 
Human rhinovirus is responsible for the majority of virus-induced asthma exacerbations. To determine the immunologic mechanisms underlying rhinovirus-induced asthma exacerbations, we combined mouse models of allergic airways disease and human rhinovirus infection. We inoculated ovalbumin-sensitized and challenged BALB/c mice with rhinovirus serotype 1B, a minor group strain capable of infecting mouse cells. Compared to sham-infected, ovalbumin-treated mice, virus-infected mice showed increased lung infiltration with neutrophils, eosinophils and macrophages, airway cholinergic hyperresponsiveness, and increased lung expression of cytokines including eotaxin-1/CCL11, IL-4, IL-13 and IFN-γ. Administration of anti-eotaxin-1 attenuated rhinovirus-induced airway eosinophilia and responsiveness. Immunohistochemistry showed eotaxin-1 in the lung macrophages of virus-infected, ovalbumin-treated mice, and confocal fluorescence microscopy revealed co-localization of rhinovirus, eotaxin-1 and IL-4 in CD68-positive cells. RV inoculation of lung macrophages from ovalbumin-treated, but not PBS-treated, mice induced expression of eotaxin-1, IL-4, and IL-13 ex vivo. Macrophages from ovalbumin-treated mice showed increased expression of arginase-1, Ym-1, Mgl-2 and IL-10, indicating a shift in macrophage activation status. Depletion of macrophages from ovalbumin-sensitized and -challenged mice reduced eosinophilic inflammation and airway hyperreactivity following RV infection. We conclude that augmented airway eosinophilic inflammation and hyperresponsiveness in RV-infected mice with allergic airways disease is directed in part by eotaxin-1. Airway macrophages from mice with allergic airways disease demonstrate a change in activation state characterized in part by altered eotaxin and IL-4 production in response to RV infection. These data provide a new paradigm to explain RV-induced asthma exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC3208235  PMID: 20644177
20.  Vaccine-Induced Immunopathology during Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection: Exploring the Parameters of Pathogenesis 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(22):12067-12073.
The bovine and human respiratory syncytial viruses cause severe lower respiratory tract infections. Effective vaccines against the respiratory syncytial viruses have been lacking since vaccine failures in the 1960s and 1970s. In this report, we describe a bovine respiratory syncytial virus (bRSV) challenge model in which both classical bRSV respiratory infection and vaccine-enhanced immune pathology were reproduced. The classical, formalin-inactivated (FI) bRSV vaccine that has been associated with vaccine failure was efficient in inducing high antibody titers and reducing viral loads but also primed calves for a far more serious enhanced respiratory disease after a bRSV challenge, thereby mimicking the enhanced clinical situation in FI human RSV (hRSV)-immunized and hRSV-infected infants in the 1960s. We show that immunization with FI-bRSV mainly primes a Th2-like inflammatory response that is characterized by a significant eosinophilic influx in the bronchial alveolar lung fluid and lung tissues and high levels of immunoglobulin E serum antibodies. The current model may be useful in the evaluation of new bRSV candidate vaccines for potency and safety.
PMCID: PMC254282  PMID: 14581543
21.  Pseudotyped Adeno-Associated Virus 2/9-Delivered CCL11 shRNA Alleviates Lung Inflammation in an Allergen-Sensitized Mouse Model 
Human Gene Therapy  2012;23(11):1156-1165.
Airway infiltration by eosinophils is a major characteristic of chronic asthma. CCL11 (eotaxin-1) is secreted by lung epithelial cells and functions as the major chemokine for eosinophil recruitment. Pseudotyped adeno-associated virus (AAV) 2/9, composed by the AAV2 rep and AAV9 cap genes, can efficiently target lung epithelial cells and might carry gene sequences with therapeutic potential for asthma. This study aimed to determine whether pseudotyped AAV2/9 virus carrying the small hairpin RNA targeting CCL11 and expressed by CMV/U6 promoter could reduce eosinophilia and asthmatic responses in mite allergen-sensitized mice. Mice were sensitized by intraperitoneal and challenged by intratracheal injection with recombinant Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus group 2 allergen (rDp2). AAV2/9 viral vectors were intratracheally injected three days before the first challenge. AAV2/9 sh47 virus significantly reduced airway hyperresponsiveness, airway resistance, CCL11 levels, and eosinophilia in the lungs of sensitized mice. Th2 cytokines, including interleukins (IL)-4, IL-5, and IL-10, were also significantly reduced in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of AAV2/9 sh47 virus-treated mice. Th2 cytokine levels were also reduced in rDp2-stimulated mediastinal lymphocytes in treated mice. However, serum levels of rDp2-specific IgG1 and IgE, as well as Th2 cytokine levels in rDp2-stimulated splenocyte culture supernatants, were comparable to the sensitized control group. The results suggest that AAV2/9 sh47 virus relieved local instead of systemic inflammatory responses. Therefore, the CMV/U6 promoter with AAV2/9 viral vector, which is preferable to target lung epithelia cells, might be applied as a novel therapeutic approach for asthma.
Wu and colleagues show that intratracheal injection of AAV2/9 vector encoding short hairpin RNA (shRNA) against CCL11 (AAV2/9 sh47) leads to a significant reduction of airway hyperresponsiveness and airway resistance in the lungs of allergen-sensitized mice. Serum levels of allergen-specific IgG1 and IgE, as well as helper T cell type 2 cytokine levels, were similar in the AAV2/9 and sensitized control groups, suggesting that this approach relieves local but not systemic inflammatory responses.
PMCID: PMC3498884  PMID: 22913580
22.  Virus-specific CD8+ T Lymphocytes Downregulate T Helper Cell Type 2 Cytokine Secretion and Pulmonary Eosinophilia during Experimental Murine Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection  
T lymphocytes play a pivotal role in the immune response during viral infections. In a murine model of experimental respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, mice sensitized to either of the two major glycoproteins of RSV develop distinct patterns of cytokine secretion and lung inflammation upon subsequent RSV infection. Mice sensitized to RSV-G (attachment) glycoprotein exhibit a strong interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-5 response and develop pulmonary eosinophilia, whereas mice sensitized to RSV-F (fusion) glycoprotein develop a predominantly T helper cell (Th)1 response and pulmonary inflammation characterized by mononuclear cell infiltration. In this study, we examined the potential role of virus-specific CD8+ T cytolytic T cells on the differentiation and activation of functionally distinct CD4+ T cells specific to these viral glycoproteins. Mice primed with recombinant vaccinia virus expressing RSV-F glycoprotein mounted a strong RSV-specific, MHC class I–restricted cytolytic response, whereas priming with recombinant vaccinia virus expressing RSV-G glycoprotein failed to elicit any detectable cytolytic response. Priming for a RSV-specific CD8+ T cell response, either with a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing RSV-G glycoprotein in which a strong CD8+ T cell epitope from RSV-M2 (matrix) protein has been inserted or with a combination of vaccinia virus expressing the matrix protein and the RSV-G glycoprotein, suppressed the eosinophil recruitment into the lungs of these mice upon subsequent challenge with RSV. This reduction in pulmonary eosinophilia correlated with the suppression of Th2 type cytokine production. The importance of CD8+ T cells in this process was further supported by the results in CD8+ T cell deficient, β2 microglobulin KO mice. In these mice, priming to RSV-F glycoprotein (which in normal mice primed for a strong cytolytic response and a pulmonary infiltrate consisting primarily of mononuclear cells on RSV challenge) resulted in the development of marked pulmonary eosinophilia that was not seen in mice with an intact CD8+ T cell compartment. These results indicate that CD8+ T cells may play an important role in the regulation of the differentiation and activation of Th2 CD4+ T cells as well as the recruitment of eosinophils into the lungs during RSV infection.
PMCID: PMC2198992  PMID: 9236194
23.  Early phase resolution of mucosal eosinophilic inflammation in allergic rhinitis 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):54.
It is widely assumed that apoptosis of eosinophils is a central component of resolution of allergic airway disease. However, this has not been demonstrated in human allergic airways in vivo. Based on animal in vivo observations we hypothesised that steroid-induced resolution of human airway eosinophilic inflammation involves inhibition of CCL5 (RANTES), a CC-chemokine regulating eosinophil and lymphocyte traffic, and elimination of eosinophils without evident occurrence of apoptotic eosinophils in the diseased tissue.
To determine mucosal eosinophilia, apoptotic eosinophils, general cell apoptosis and cell proliferation, and expression of CCL5 and CCL11 (eotaxin) in human allergic airway tissues in vivo at resolution of established symptomatic eosinophilic inflammation.
Twenty-one patients with intermittent (birch and/or grass) allergic rhinitis received daily nasal allergen challenges for two seven days' periods separated by more than two weeks washout. Five days into these "artificial pollen seasons", nasal treatment with budesonide was instituted and continued for six days in a double blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, and crossover design. This report is a parallel group comparison of nasal biopsy histochemistry data obtained on the final day of the second treatment period.
Treatments were instituted when clinical rhinitis symptoms had been established. Compared to placebo, budesonide reduced tissue eosinophilia, and subepithelial more than epithelial eosinophilia. Steroid treatment also attenuated tissue expression of CCL5, but CCL11 was not reduced. General tissue cell apoptosis and epithelial cell proliferation were reduced by budesonide. However, apoptotic eosinophils were not detected in any biopsies, irrespective of treatment.
Inhibition of CCL5-dependent recruitment of cells to diseased airway tissue, and reduced cell proliferation, reduced general cell apoptosis, but not increased eosinophil apoptosis, are involved in early phase steroid-induced resolution of human allergic rhinitis.
PMCID: PMC2873933  PMID: 20459697
24.  A Novel 5-Lipoxygenase-Activating Protein Inhibitor, AM679, Reduces Inflammation in the Respiratory Syncytial Virus-Infected Mouse Eye▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2009;16(11):1654-1659.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important cause of viral respiratory disease in children, and RSV bronchiolitis has been associated with the development of asthma in childhood. RSV spreads from the eye and nose to the human respiratory tract. Correlative studies of humans and direct infection studies of BALB/c mice have established the eye as a significant pathway of entry of RSV to the lung. At the same time, RSV infection of the eye produces symptoms resembling allergic conjunctivitis. Cysteinyl leukotrienes (CysLTs) are known promoters of allergy and inflammation, and the first step in their biogenesis from arachidonic acid is catalyzed by 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) in concert with the 5-LO-activating protein (FLAP). We have recently developed a novel compound, AM679, which is a topically applied and potent inhibitor of FLAP. Here we show with the BALB/c mouse eye RSV infection model that AM679 markedly reduced the RSV-driven ocular pathology as well as the synthesis of CysLTs in the eye. In addition, AM679 decreased the production of the Th2 cell cytokine interleukin-4 but did not increase the viral load in the eye or the lung. These results suggest that FLAP inhibitors may be therapeutic for RSV-driven eye disease and possibly other inflammatory eye indications.
PMCID: PMC2772391  PMID: 19759251
25.  An adjuvanted respiratory syncytial virus fusion protein induces protection in aged BALB/c mice 
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) causes significant disease in the elderly, in part, because immunosenescence impairs protective immune responses to infection in this population. Despite previous and current efforts, there is no RSV vaccine currently licensed in infants or elderly adults. Adjuvanted RSV subunit vaccines have the potential to boost waning immune responses and reduce the burden of RSV disease in the elderly population.
We used an aged BALB/c mouse model to evaluate immune responses to RSV Fusion (F) protein in the absence and presence of an alum adjuvant. We demonstrate that aged BALB/c mice immunized with alum-adjuvanted RSV F protein had significantly reduced lung viral titers at day 4 following challenge with wild-type (wt) RSV. Serum neutralizing antibody titers measured on day 27 correlated with protection in both young and aged vaccinated mice, although the magnitude of antibody titers was lower in aged mice. Unlike young mice, in aged mice, alum-adjuvanted RSV F did not induce lung TH2-type cytokines or eosinophil infiltration compared to non-adjuvanted F protein following wt RSV challenge.
Our studies demonstrate that neutralizing anti-RSV antibody titers correlate with protection in both young and aged BALB/c mice vaccinated with RSV F protein vaccines. The F + alum formulation mediated greater protection compared to the non-adjuvanted F protein in both young and aged mice. However, while alum can boost F-specific antibody responses in aged mice, it does not completely overcome the reduced ability of a senescent immune system to respond to the RSV F antigen. Thus, our data suggest that a stronger adjuvant may be required for the prevention of RSV disease in immunosenescent populations, to achieve the appropriate balance of protective neutralizing antibodies and effective TH1-type cytokine response along with minimal lung immunopathology.
PMCID: PMC3534329  PMID: 23031690
Respiratory Syncytial Virus; Immunosenescence; Alum; Adjuvant; Aged mice

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