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The susceptibility to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in early life has been associated with a deficient T-helper cell type 1 (Th1) response. Conversely, healthy adults generally do not exhibit severe illness from RSV infection. In the current study, we investigated whether Th1 cytokine IFN-γ is essential for protection against RSV and RSV-associated comorbidities in adult mice. We found that, distinct from influenza virus, prior RSV infection does not induce significant IFN-γ production and susceptibility to secondary Streptococcus pneumoniae infection in adult wild-type (WT) mice. In ovalbumin (OVA)-induced asthmatic mice, RSV super-infection increases airway neutrophil recruitment and inflammatory lung damage but has no significant effect on OVA-induced eosinophilia. Compared with WT controls, RSV infection of asthmatic Ifng-/- mice results in increased airway eosinophil accumulation. However, a comparable increase in eosinophilia was detected in house dust mite (HDM)-induced asthmatic Ifng-/- mice in the absence of RSV infection. Furthermore, neither WT nor Ifng-/- mice exhibit apparent eosinophil infiltration during RSV infection alone. Together, these findings indicate that, despite its critical role in limiting eosinophilic inflammation during asthma, IFN-γ is not essential for protection against RSV-induced exacerbation of asthmatic inflammation in adult mice.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.