Cytokine amplification by respiratory syncytial virus infection in human nasal epithelial cells

Subinoy Das, Owen P. Palmer, W. Derek Leight, Joshua B. Surowitz, Raymond J. Pickles, Scott H. Randell, Craig A. Buchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objectives: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important cause of upper respiratory infections and is known to play a causal role in the pathogenesis of rhinitis, sinusitis, acute otitis media, and pneumonia. RSV appears to prime the respiratory tract to secondary inciting events, such as bacterial or antigen challenges. To study the proinflammatory priming effects of REV infection, cytokine expression was measured in well-differentiated human nasal epithelial cells (WD-NE) after RSV infection alone or after subsequent tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α stimulation. Study Design: In vitro investigation. Methods: Human nasal epithelial cells were obtained from surgical specimens and allowed to differentiate in air-liquid interface cultures until ciliation and mucus production were evident. Two experimental paradigms were used. First, accumulation of cytokines in the media was measured by real-time, quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay after RSV infection alone. In the second set of experiments, cytokines were also measured after TNF-α stimulation in both RSV-infected and uninfected cultures. Results: RSV infection of WD-NE resulted in significant accumulations of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, and RANTES when compared with findings in control samples. Real-time, quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated significant increases in IL-8 gene expression following RSV infection when compared to controls. Secondary TNF-α stimulation following well-established (i.e., 72 h) RSV infection induced marked increases in IL-6, IL-8, and RANTES when compared with both RSV infection alone and TNF-α stimulation alone. Conclusions: These findings suggest that RSV infection primes nasal epithelial cells to secondary proinflammatory challenge, resulting in a hyperimmune response. RSV-induced priming of a byperimmune response may be important in the pathogenesis of sinusitis, acute otitis media, and pneumonia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-768
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • IL-6
  • IL-8
  • Nasal epithelium
  • RSV
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • TNF-α


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