Influenza A virus infection increases IgE production and airway responsiveness in aerosolized antigen-exposed mice

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1998 Nov;102(5):732-40. doi: 10.1016/s0091-6749(98)70012-0.


Background: Respiratory viral infection is known clinically to promote sensitization to antigen inhalation and the development of asthma.

Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether influenza type A virus infection enhances inhalation sensitization and increases airway responsiveness in mice.

Methods: Mice were infected by intranasal inoculation with influenza A viruses (strains: H1N1 and H3N2) or PBS. Animals were exposed to aerosols of ovalbumin on day 3. Two weeks after ovalbumin sensitization, mice were challenged with ovalbumin aerosols; 24 hours later, airway responsiveness (AR) to inhaled methacholine, levels of ovalbumin-specific IgE, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were examined.

Results: Neither influenza A virus (H1N1 nor H3N2) alone nor ovalbumin sensitization alone caused changes in AR or IgE. However, ovalbumin sensitization after inoculation with either influenza A virus increased AR and levels of ovalbumin-specific IgE. On BALF-cell analysis, ovalbumin sensitization after inoculation with influenza virus A increased the number of lymphocytes but not the number of eosinophils. No difference in AR or IgE levels was observed between the 2 strains of influenza A viruses. Immmunostaining of BALF cells showed an increase in T cells, especially CD8(+) cells, with ovalbumin sensitization after inoculation with influenza virus A.

Conclusion: Infection by influenza A virus enhances sensitization to inhaled antigens and airway responsiveness in mice by means of mechanisms including CD8(+) cells and antigen-specific IgE.

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Reaction / virology
  • Aerosols
  • Airway Resistance
  • Animals
  • Antigens / pharmacology*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / immunology*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / physiopathology*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology*
  • Cell Count
  • Immunoglobulin E / biosynthesis*
  • Influenza A virus*
  • Lung / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Methacholine Chloride / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / immunology
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / physiopathology*


  • Aerosols
  • Antigens
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Immunoglobulin E