Respiratory viral infection in early childhood, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), has previously been associated with the development of asthma. This study addresses the question of whether ex vivo RSV infection of bronchial epithelial cells (BECs) induces specific gene expression patterns in children with asthma and whether such patterns are associated with lung function in BEC donors.
To this end, primary BECs from healthy children and children with asthma were differentiated at an air-fluid interface, infected with RSV, and subsequently subjected to RNA sequencing. In addition, BEC donors underwent spirometry to measure lung function.
BECs from children with asthma and obstructive physiology showed greater expression of types I and III interferons and interferon-stimulated genes than cells from children with normal lung function, and expression of interferon-associated genes correlated with the degree of airway obstruction. These results suggest that exaggerated interferon response to viral infection by airway epithelial cells may be a mechanism leading to a decline in lung function in a subset of children with asthma.
Interferon response to respiratory syncytial virus by bronchial epithelium from children with asthma is inversely correlated with pulmonary function
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