Influenza viruses (IVs) circulate seasonally and are a common cause of respiratory infections in pediatric and adult patients. Additionally, recurrent pandemics cause massive morbidity and mortality worldwide. Infection may result in rapid progressive viral pneumonia with fatal outcome. Since accurate treatment strategies are still missing, research refocuses attention to lung pathology and cellular crosstalk to develop new therapeutic options.Alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) play an important role in orchestrating the pulmonary antiviral host response. After IV infection they release a cascade of immune mediators, one of which is granulocyte and macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). GM-CSF is known to promote differentiation, activation and mobilization of myeloid cells. In the lung, GM-CSF drives immune functions of alveolar macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs) and also improves epithelial repair processes through direct interaction with AECs. During IV infection, AEC-derived GM-CSF shows a lung-protective effect that is also present after local GM-CSF application. This mini-review provides an overview on GM-CSF-modulated immune responses to IV pneumonia and its therapeutic potential in severe IV pneumonia.
Keywords: AEC; ARDS; GM-CSF; Influenza; Pneumonia; Therapy.