Severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection has long been associated with an increased risk for the development of childhood asthma and exacerbations of this disorder. Despite much research into the induction of Th2 responses by allergens and helminths, the factors associated with viral infection that predispose to Th2-regulated asthma remain unknown. Recently, clinical studies have shown reduced numbers of NK cells in infants suffering from a severe RSV infection. Here we demonstrate that NK cell deficiency during primary RSV infection of BALB/c mice results in the suppression of IFN-ᵧ production and the development of an RSV-specific Th2 response and subsequent allergic lung disease. The outgrowth of the Th2 responses was dependent on airway epithelial cell-derived IL-25, which induced the upregulation of the notch ligand Jagged1 on dendritic cells. This study identifies a novel pathway underlying viral-driven Th2 responses that may have functional relevance to viral-associated asthma.
Journal of Immunology Vol. 185, Issue 8, p. 4681-4690