Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract infections in infant and elderly populations worldwide. Currently, there is no efficacious vaccine or therapy available for RSV infection. The molecular mechanisms underlying RSV-induced acute airway disease and associated long-term consequences remain largely unknown; however, experimental evidence suggests that the lung inflammatory response plays a fundamental role in the outcome of RSV infection. High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a nuclear protein that triggers inflammation when released from activated immune or necrotic cells and drives the pathogenesis of various infectious agents. Although HMGB1 has been implicated in many inflammatory diseases, its role in RSV-induced airway inflammation has not been investigated. This study investigates the molecular mechanism of action of extracellularly released HMGB1 in airway epithelial cells (A549 and small airway epithelial cells) to establish its role in RSV infection. Immunofluorescence microscopy and Western blotting results showed that RSV infection of human airway epithelial cells induced a significant release of HMGB1 as a result of translocation of HMGB1 from the cell nuclei to the cytoplasm and subsequent release into the extracellular space. Treating RSV-infected A549 cells with antioxidants significantly inhibited RSV-induced HMGB1 extracellular release. Studies using recombinant HMGB1 triggered immune responses by activating primary human monocytes. Finally, HMGB1 released by airway epithelial cells due to RSV infection appears to function as a paracrine factor priming epithelial cells and monocytes to inflammatory stimuli in the airways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science