Acute, but Not Resolved, Influenza A Infection Enhances Susceptibility to House Dust Mite-Induced Allergic Disease
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The impact of respiratory viral infections on the emergence of the asthmatic phenotype is a subject of intense investigation. Most experimental studies addressing this issue have used the inert Ag OVA with controversial results. We examined the consequences of exposure to a low dose of the common aeroallergen house dust mite (HDM) during the course of an influenza A infection. First, we delineated the kinetics of the immune-inflammatory response in the lung of mice following intranasal infection with influenza A/PR8/34. Our data demonstrate a peak response during the first 10 days, with considerable albeit not complete resolution at day 39 postinfection (p.i.). At day 7 p.i., mice were exposed, intranasally, to HDM for 10 consecutive days. We observed significantly enhanced eosinophilic inflammation, an expansion in Th2 cells, enhanced HDM-specific IgE and IgG1 responses and increased mucous production. Furthermore, lung mononuclear cells produced enhanced IFN-gamma and IL-5, unchanged IL-13, and reduced IL-4. These immunologic and structural changes lead to marked lung dysfunction. This allergic phenotype occurs at a time when there is a preferential increase in plasmacytoid dendritic cells over myeloid dendritic cells, activated CD8(+) T cells, and increased IFN-gamma production, all of which have been proposed to inhibit allergic responses. In contrast, the inflammatory response elicited by HDM was reduced when exposure occurred during the resolution phase (day 40 p.i.). Interestingly, this was not associated with a reduction in sensitization. Thus, the proinflammatory environment established during an acute influenza A infection enhances Th2-polarized immunity to a low dose of HDM and precipitates marked lung dysfunction.
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