The mechanisms by which respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection induces bronchiolitis and airway disease are unclear. The presence Of large numbers of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) in the airways of infants with RSV infection suggests a potential role of PMN in airway injury associated with RSV infection. To investigate the potential role of neutrophils in RSV bronchiolitis, human alveolar type II cells (A549 cells) were infected with different doses of RSV for 6-48h. A 51Cr-releasing assay was used to measure PMN-induced damage and image analysis was used to determine PMN adhesion and detachment of epithelial cells. The results showed that RSV infection of epithelial cells enhanced PMN adherence in a dose- and time-dependent pattern, RSV infection alone could damage and detach epithelial cells to a limited extent and PMN significantly augmented RSV infection-induced damage and detachment of epithelial cells. These data suggest that respiratory syncytial virus infection of respiratory epithelial cells enhances neutrophil adhesion to the epithelium and that activated neutrophils augment the damage and detachment of epithelium infected with the virus. Polymorphonuclear leukocytes may contribute to the pathogenesis of respiratory syncytial virus airway disease by inducing epithelial damage and cell loss.
- Respiratory epithelial cell
- Respiratory syncytial virus