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Critical role of CXCL4 in the lung pathogenesis of influenza (H1N1) respiratory infection

Annual epidemics and unexpected pandemics of influenza are threats to human health. Lung immune and inflammatory responses, such as those induced by respiratory infection influenza virus, determine the outcome of pulmonary pathogenesis. Platelet-derived chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 4 (CXCL4) has an immunoregulatory role in inflammatory diseases. Here we show that CXCL4 is associated with pulmonary influenza infection and has a critical role in protecting mice from fatal H1N1 virus respiratory infection. CXCL4 knockout resulted in diminished viral clearance from the lung and decreased lung inflammation during early infection but more severe lung pathology relative to wild-type mice during late infection. Additionally, CXCL4 deficiency decreased leukocyte accumulation in the infected lung with markedly decreased neutrophil infiltration into the lung during early infection and extensive leukocyte, especially lymphocyte accumulation at the late infection stage. Loss of CXCL4 did not affect the activation of adaptive immune T and B lymphocytes during the late stage of lung infection. Further study revealed that CXCL4 deficiency inhibited neutrophil recruitment to the infected mouse lung. Thus the above results identify CXCL4 as a vital immunoregulatory chemokine essential for protecting mice against influenza A virus infection, especially as it affects the development of lung injury and neutrophil mobilization to the inflamed lung.

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