Lamb Model of Respiratory Syncytial Virus–Associated Lung Disease: Insights to Pathogenesis and Novel Treatments
Preterm birth is a risk factor for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis and hospitalization. The pathogenesis underlying this is not fully understood, and in vivo studies are needed to better clarify essential cellular features and molecular mechanisms. Such studies include analysis of lung tissue from affected human infants and various animal models. The preterm and newborn lamb lung has developmental, structural, cellular, physiologic, and immunologic features similar to that of human infants. Also, the lamb lung is susceptible to various strains of RSV that infect infants and cause similar bronchiolar lesions. Studies in lambs suggest that viral replication in airways (especially bronchioles) is extensive by 4 days after infection, along with bronchiolitis characterized by degeneration and necrosis of epithelial cells, syncytial cell formation, neutrophil infiltration, epithelial cell hypertrophy and hyperplasia, and innate and adaptive immune responses. RSV bronchiolitis greatly affects airflow and gaseous exchange. RSV disease severity is increased in preterm lambs compared with full-term lambs; similar to human infants. The lamb is conducive to experimental assessment of novel, mechanistic therapeutic interventions such as delivery of vascular endothelial growth factor and enhancement of airway epithelial oxidative responses, Club (Clara) cell protein 10, and synthesized compounds such as nanobodies. In contrast, exposure of the fetal ovine lung in vivo to ethanol, a risk factor for preterm birth, reduces pulmonary alveolar development and surfactant protein A expression. Because the formalin-inactivated RSV vaccination enhances some inflammatory responses to RSV infection in lambs, this model has the potential to assess mechanisms of formalin-inactivated RSV enhanced disease as well as newly developed vaccines.
This is a manuscript of an article from ILAR Journal 55 (2014): 4, doi:10.1093/ilar/ilu003. Posted with permission.