The interaction of neutrophils with respiratory epithelial cells in viral infection

Shan Z.E. Wang, Kevin D. Forsyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Viral respiratory infection is very common. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infects almost all children during the first 2 years of life. Respiratory syncytial virus is the most frequent cause of bronchiolitis, which is strongly linked with asthma. However, the pathophysiology of RSV bronchiolitis is unclear. Neutrophils are the predominant airway leucocytes in RSV bronchiolitis and other viral infections. Neutrophils and their products are likely to play an important role in viral infection. Current evidence indicates that: (i) viral infection of epithelial cells increases the production of neutrophil chemoattractants or chemokines, which induce neutrophil migration into the inflammatory sites; (ii) the expression of adhesion molecules on neutrophils and epithelial cells is up-regulated in viral infection, and neutrophil-epithelial adhesion is increased; (iii) neutrophils augment epithelial damage and detachment induced by viral infection and contribute to the pathophysiology of viral disease; (iv) neutrophil apoptosis is up-regulated in RSV infection, which may be an in vivo mechanism to limit neutrophil-induced epithelial damage; (v) inhibitors of chemokines, adhesion molecules or neutrophil proteases may be useful in prevention of neutrophil-induced epithelial damage. In conclusion, neutrophils play an important role in viral infection, and intervention to prevent neutrophil-induced epithelial damage may be a potential clinical therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Adhesion
  • Damage
  • Epithelial cell
  • Interaction
  • Neutrophil
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Viral infection


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