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Enhanced virulence, airway inflammation and impaired lung function induced by respiratory syncytial virus deficient in secreted G protein
  1. J Schwarze1,2,
  2. U Schauer1
  1. 1Children’s Clinic, St Josef-Hospital, 44791 Bochum, Germany
  2. 2Department of Respiratory Medicine, National Heart and Lung Division, Imperial College, London W2 1PG, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr med J Schwarze
    Department of Respiratory Medicine, National Heart and Lung Division, Imperial College, London W2 1PG, UK;


Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection can cause bronchial hyperresponsiveness and asthma exacerbations. In mice it results in airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness. Since viral factors influencing these responses are not well defined, a study was undertaken to investigate the role of secreted G protein of human RSV in determining virulence, inflammatory responses, and changes in lung function.

Methods: BALB/c mice were infected with a spontaneous mutant of RSV deficient in secreted G protein (RSV-ΔsG) or with wild type RSV (RSV-WT). Viral titres, numbers of pulmonary inflammatory cells, and concentrations of interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5 and IL-10 in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid were determined. Airway function was assessed at baseline and following methacholine provocation using barometric whole body plethysmography.

Result: Following infection with RSV-ΔsG, viral titres were increased 50-fold compared with RSV-WT. Influx of eosinophils and macrophages to the lung and concentrations of IFN-γ and IL-10 in BAL fluid were also significantly higher following infection with RSV-ΔsG. Airway function, both at baseline and after methacholine provocation, was significantly decreased following infection with RSV-ΔsG compared with RSV-WT.

Conclusion: Secreted G protein is likely to be a regulatory factor in RSV infection limiting infectivity of the virus, inflammatory responses in the lungs, and reduction in lung function.

  • respiratory syncytial virus
  • asthma
  • G protein
  • lung function
  • inflammation
  • BAL, bronchoalveolar lavage
  • IFN-γ, interferon-γ
  • IL, interleukin
  • RSV, respiratory syncytial virus
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  • This work was supported by grant 01GC9802 from Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung and grant AL 067454 from The Wellcome Trust, both to JS.

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