IL-10 regulates viral lung immunopathology during acute respiratory syncytial virus infection in mice

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Interleukin (IL-) 10 is a pleiotropic cytokine with broad immunosuppressive functions, particularly at mucosal sites such as the intestine and lung. Here we demonstrate that infection of BALB/c mice with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) induced IL-10 production by CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in the airways at later time points (e.g. day 8); a proportion of these cells also co-produced IFN-γ. Furthermore, RSV infection of IL-10(-/-) mice resulted in more severe disease with enhanced weight loss, delayed recovery and greater cell infiltration of the respiratory tract without affecting viral load. In addition, IL-10(-/-) mice had a pronounced airway neutrophilia and heightened levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Notably, the proportion of lung T cells producing IFN-γ was enhanced, suggesting that IL-10 may act in an autocrine manner to dampen effector T cell responses. Similar findings were made in mice treated with anti-IL-10R antibody and infected with RSV. Therefore, IL-10 inhibits disease and inflammation in mice infected with RSV, especially during recovery from infection.

Journal details

Journal PLOS ONE
Volume 7
Issue number 2
Pages e32371
Publication date