Adrenergic signaling at the interface of allergic asthma and viral infections

Didem Agaç, Michelle A. Gill, J. David Farrar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Upper respiratory viral infections are a major etiologic instigator of allergic asthma, and they drive severe exacerbations of allergic inflammation in the lower airways of asthma sufferers. Rhinovirus (RV), in particular, is the main viral instigator of these pathologies. Asthma exacerbations due to RV infections are the most frequent reasons for hospitalization and account for the majority of morbidity and mortality in asthma patients. In both critical care and disease control, long- and short-acting β2-agonists are the first line of therapeutic intervention, which are used to restore airway function by promoting smooth muscle cell relaxation in bronchioles. While prophylactic use of β2-agonists reduces the frequency and pathology of exacerbations, their role in modulating the inflammatory response is only now being appreciated. Adrenergic signaling is a component of the sympathetic nervous system, and the natural ligands, epinephrine and norepinephrine (NE), regulate a multitude of autonomic functions including regulation of both the innate and adaptive immune response. NE is the primary neurotransmitter released by post-ganglionic sympathetic neurons that innervate most all peripheral tissues including lung and secondary lymphoid organs. Thus, the adrenergic signaling pathways are in direct contact with both the central and peripheral immune compartments. We present a perspective on how the adrenergic signaling pathway controls immune function and how β2-agonists may influence inflammation in the context of virus-induced asthma exacerbations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number736
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - Apr 11 2018


  • Adrenergic receptor
  • Asthma
  • Cytokine
  • Inflammation
  • Rhinovirus


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