Interleukin-11: stimulation in vivo and in vitro by respiratory viruses and induction of airways hyperresponsiveness

J Clin Invest. 1996 Feb 15;97(4):915-24. doi: 10.1172/JCI118514.


To address the role of IL-11 in viral airways dysfunction, we determined whether infectious agents that exacerbate asthma stimulate stromal cell IL-11 production, determined whether IL-11 could be detected at sites of viral infection and evaluated the effects of IL-11 on airway physiology. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), parainfluenza virus type 3 (PIV3), and rhinovirus (RV) 14 were potent stimulators while cytomegalovirus and adenovirus only weakly stimulated and herpes simplex virus type 2 and bacteria did not stimulate IL-11 elaboration. IL-11 was not detected or barely detected in nasal aspirates from children without, but was detected in aspirates from children with viral upper respiratory tract infections. The levels of IL-11 were highest in patients with clinically detectable wheezing. IL-11 also caused nonspecific airways hyperresponsiveness in BALB/c mice. These studies demonstrate that three major causes of viral-induced asthma, RSV, RV, and PIV, in contrast to other viruses and bacteria, share the ability to induce stromal cell IL-11 production. They also demonstrate that IL-11 can be detected in vivo during viral respiratory infections, that the presence of IL-11 correlates with clinical bronchospasm and that IL-11 is a potent inducer of airways hyperresponsiveness. IL-11 may be an important mediator in viral airways disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-11 / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Nasal Mucosa / immunology
  • Parainfluenza Virus 3, Human / immunology
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / immunology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory System / pathology
  • Respiratory System / physiopathology*


  • Interleukin-11
  • RNA, Messenger