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by Leigh MacMillan | Friday, Apr. 26, 2013, 8:00 AM
Viral infections are the most frequent cause of attacks in asthma – a chronic lung disease characterized by increased inflammation, airway reactivity and mucus production.
To understand how viral infections cause asthma attacks, Vanderbilt investigators previously developed a mouse model of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection during ongoing allergic asthma induced by ovalbumin (OVA). They found that OVA/RSV mice had increased lung expression of the immune factor IL-17A, which is associated with severe asthma and is a therapeutic target of inhibitors currently in clinical trials.
Dawn Newcomb, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Medicine, and colleagues have now investigated the role of IL-17A in airway reactivity and inflammation in the OVA/RSV model. They were surprised to find that in mice missing IL-17A, OVA/RSV increased airway reactivity and the influx of inflammatory cells, compared to the same treatment in wild-type mice.
The findings, reported in the journal Thorax, suggest that IL-17A reduces airway reactivity and inflammation in OVA/RSV mice and that inhibiting IL-17A in the setting of virally-induced asthma attacks may have adverse consequences.
Leigh MacMillan, (615) 322-4747
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