Respiratory syncytial virus, pneumonia virus of mice, and influenza A virus differently affect respiratory allergy in mice


Dr. T.G. Kimman, Laboratory for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, National Institute of Public Health and Environment, PO Box 1, 3710 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Background Respiratory viral infections in early childhood may interact with the immune system and modify allergen sensitization and/or allergic manifestations. In mice, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection during allergic provocation aggravates the allergic T helper (Th) 2 immune response, characterized by the production of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13, and inflammatory infiltrates. However, it is unclear whether the RSV-enhanced respiratory allergic response is a result of non-specific virus-induced damage of the lung, or virus-specific immune responses.

Objective In the present study we investigated whether RSV, pneumonia virus of mice (PVM) and influenza A virus similarly affect the allergic response.

Methods BALB/c mice were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA), and inoculated with virus during the challenge period. Pulmonary inflammation, lung cytokine mRNA responses, and IgE production in serum were assessed after the last OVA-challenge.

Results Like RSV, PVM enhanced the OVA-induced pulmonary IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 mRNA expression, which was associated with enhanced perivascular inflammation. In addition, PVM increased the influx of eosinophils in lung tissue. In contrast, influenza virus decreased the Th2 cytokine mRNA expression in the lungs. However, like PVM, influenza virus enhanced the pulmonary eosinophilic infiltration in OVA-allergic mice.

Conclusion The Paramyxoviruses RSV and PVM both are able to enhance the allergic Th2cytokine response and perivascular inflammation in BALB/c mice, while the Orthomyxovirus influenza A is not.