Background. Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) infection is implicated in exacerbations of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Research into the pathogenesis of infection is restricted to animal models, and information about hMPV replication and inflammatory and immune responses in human disease is limited. Methods. Human primary bronchial epithelial cells (PBECs) from healthy and asthmatic subjects and those with COPD were infected with hMPV, with or without glucocorticosteroid (GCS) exposure. Viral replication, inflammatory and immune responses, and apoptosis were analyzed. We also determined whether adjuvant interferon (IFN) can blunt hMPV infection in vitro and in a murine model. Results. hMPV infected human PBECs and viral replication was enhanced in cells from patients with COPD. The virus induced gene expression of IFN-stimulated gene 56 (ISG56) and IFN-β, as well as IFN-3-inducible protein 10 (IP-10) and regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES), and more so in cells from patients with COPD. GCS exposure enhanced hMPV replication despite increased IFN expression. Augmented virus replication associated with GCS was mediated by reduced apoptosis via induction of antiapoptotic genes. Adjuvant IFN treatment suppressed hMPV replication in PBECs and reduced hMPV viral titers and inflammation in vivo. Conclusions. hMPV infects human PBECs, eliciting innate and inflammatory responses. Replication is enhanced by GCS and adjuvant IFN is an effective treatment, restricting virus replication and proinflammatory consequences of hMPV infections.
- human metapneumovirus
- human primary bronchial epithelial cells
- innate immune response.