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Keywords:

  • asthma;
  • budesonide;
  • corticosteroids;
  • fluticasone;
  • neurotrophins

Abstract

Neurotrophic factors and receptors are upregulated in the respiratory tract of humans and rodents infected by the respiratory syncytial virus, leading to airway inflammation and hyperreactivity. The contribution of neurotrophic pathways to the recruitment of immuno-inflammatory cells and their response to anti-inflammatory therapy remains unclear. We sought to determine whether selective nerve growth factor inhibition prevents the immuno-inflammatory response against infection, and explored the effect of inhaled corticosteroids on virus-induced neurotrophic upregulation and the consequent recruitment of immuno-inflammatory cells into the airways. We tried to inhibit the recruitment of lymphocytes and monocytes into the airways of infected weanling rats using immunologic inhibition of nerve growth factor with a specific blocking antibody, or chemical inhibition of receptor tyrosine kinase with K252a. The anti-inflammatory activity of inhaled corticosteroids was studied in infected rats treated with budesonide, fluticasone, or vehicle. Immunological or chemical inhibition of nerve growth factor or its high-affinity receptor tyrosine kinase pathway inhibited the recruitment of inflammatory cells triggered by nociceptive irritation of infected rat airways, thereby reducing local and systemic immuno-inflammatory responses against the virus. Neurotrophic upregulation in infected airways was not affected by inhaled corticosteroids. As a logical consequence, these commonly used drugs were also unable to stop the recruitment of immune and inflammatory effector cells into infected airways. Overexpression of neurotrophic factors and receptors in airways infected by respiratory syncytial virus is critical for the development of airway inflammation and hyperreactivity, which is resistant to the anti-inflammatory effect of inhaled corticosteroids. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2007; 42:496–504. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.