Early cytokine dysregulation and viral replication are associated with mortality during lethal influenza infection

Alexander J. Vogel, Seth Harris, Nathan Marsteller, Shirley A. Condon, Deborah M. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Infection with influenza A virus (IAV) leads to acute lung injury and possibly fatal complications, especially in immunocompromised, elderly, or chronically infected individuals. Therefore, it is important to study the factors that lead to pathology and mortality in infected hosts. In this report, we analyze immune responses to infection at a sublethal (0.1 LD50) and lethal (1 LD50) dose of the highly pathogenic IAV A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (PR8). Our experiments revealed that infection with a 1 LD 50 dose induced peak viral titers at day 2 compared to day 4 in the 0.1 LD50 dose. Moreover, early cytokine dysregulation was observed in the lethal dose with significantly elevated levels of IFN-α, TNF-α, CXCL9, IL-6, and MCP-1 produced at day 2. Early inflammatory responses following infection with 1 LD50 correlated with a greater influx of neutrophils into the lung. However, depletion of neutrophils enhanced morbidity following IAV infection. Though no differences in CD8+ cell function were observed, CD4+ effector responses were impaired in the lungs 8 days after infection with 1 LD50. Histological analysis revealed significant pathology in lethally infected mice at day 2 and day 6 postinfection, when viral titers remained high. Treating lethally infected mice with oseltamivir inhibited viral titers to sublethal levels, and abrogated the pathology associated with the lethal dose. Together, these results suggest that early cytokine dysregulation and viral replication play a role in pulmonary damage and high mortality in lethally infected mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-224
Number of pages11
JournalViral Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Virology


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