Microbiology Spectrum (Dec 2022)

C-Fiber Degeneration Enhances Alveolar Macrophage-Mediated IFN-α/β Response to Respiratory Syncytial Virus

  • Yu He,
  • Changgen Li,
  • Zhili Wang,
  • Zhongying Yang,
  • Jianhua Wei,
  • Luo Ren,
  • Yu Deng,
  • Shiyi Chen,
  • Zhixu Ye,
  • Na Zang,
  • Enmei Liu

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 6


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ABSTRACT Stimulation of unmyelinated C fibers, the nociceptive sensory nerves, by noxious stimuli is able to initiate host responses. Host defensive responses against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection rely on the induction of a robust alpha/beta interferon (IFN-α/β) response, which acts to restrict viral production and promote antiviral immune responses. Alveolar macrophages (AMs) are the major source of IFN-α/β upon RSV infection. Here, we found that C fibers are involved in host defense against RSV infection. Compared to the control mice post-RSV infection, degeneration and inhibition of C fibers by blockade of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) lowered viral replication and alleviated lung inflammation. Importantly, AMs were markedly elevated in C-fiber-degenerated (KCF) mice post-RSV infection, which was associated with higher IFN-α/β secretion as measured in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) samples. Degeneration of C fibers contributed to the production of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), which modulated AM and IFN-α/β levels to protect against RSV infection. Collectively, these findings revealed the key role of C fibers in regulating AM and IFN-α/β responses against RSV infection via VIP, opening the possibility for new therapeutic strategies against RSV. IMPORTANCE Despite continuous advances in medicine, safe and effective drugs against RSV infection remain elusive. As such, host-RSV interactions and host-directed therapies require further research. Unmyelinated C fibers, the nociceptive sensory nerves, play an important role in regulating the host response to virus. In the present study, from the perspective of neuroimmune interactions, we clarified that C-fiber degeneration enhanced the AM-mediated IFN-α/β response against RSV via VIP, providing potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of RSV infection.