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Immunology - Infectious Diseases - Respiratory Medicine - Virology

Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 Virus Suppresses RIG-I Initiated Innate Antiviral Responses in the Human Lung
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Author: Wenxin Wu et al.

by Wenxin Wu, Wei Zhang, J. Leland Booth, Jordan P. Metcalf

Influenza infection is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) is believed to play an important role in the recognition of, and response to, influenza virus and other RNA viruses. Our study focuses on the hypothesis that pandemic H1N1/09 influenza virus alters the influenza-induced proinflammatory response and suppresses host antiviral activity. We first compared the innate response to a clinical isolate of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus, OK/09, a clinical isolate of seasonal H3N2 virus, OK/06, and to a laboratory adapted seasonal H1N1 virus, PR8, using a unique human lung organ culture model. Exposure of human lung tissue to either pandemic or seasonal influenza virus resulted in infection and replication in alveolar epithelial cells. Pandemic virus induces a diminished RIG-I mRNA and antiviral cytokine response than seasonal virus in human lung. The suppression of antiviral response and RIG-I mRNA expression was confirmed at the protein level by ELISA and western blot. We performed a time course of RIG-I and interferon-ß (IFN-ß) mRNA induction by the two viruses. RIG-I and IFN-ß induction by OK/09 was of lower amplitude and shorter duration than that caused by PR8. In contrast, the pandemic virus OK/09 caused similar induction of proinflammatory cytokines, IL-8 and IL-6, at both the transcriptional and translational level as PR8 in human lung. Differential antiviral responses did not appear to be due to a difference in cellular infectivity as immunohistochemistry showed that both viruses infected alveolar macrophages and epithelial cells. These findings show that influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus suppresses anti-viral immune responses in infected human lung through inhibition of viral-mediated induction of the pattern recognition receptor, RIG-I, though proinflammatory cytokine induction was unaltered. This immunosuppression of the host antiviral response by pandemic virus may have contributed to the more serious lung infections that occurred in the H1N1 pandemic of 2009.