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Pollen exposure weakens innate defense against respiratory viruses


Abstract

BACKGROUND: Hundreds of plant species release their pollen into the air every year during early spring. During that period, pollen allergic as well as non-allergic patients frequently present to doctors with severe respiratory tract infections. Our objective was therefore to assess whether pollen may interfere with antiviral immunity.
METHODS: We combined data from real-life human exposure cohorts, a mouse model and human cell culture to test our hypothesis.
RESULTS: Pollen significantly diminished interferon-λ and pro-inflammatory chemokine responses of airway epithelia to rhinovirus and viral mimics and decreased nuclear translocation of interferon regulatory factors. In mice infected with respiratory syncytial virus, co-exposure to pollen caused attenuated antiviral gene expression and increased pulmonary viral titers. In non-allergic human volunteers, nasal symptoms were positively correlated with airborne birch pollen abundance, and nasal birch pollen challenge led to downregulation of type I and -III interferons in nasal mucosa. In a large patient cohort, numbers of rhinoviruspositive cases were correlated with airborne birch pollen concentrations.
CONCLUSION: The ability of pollen to suppress innate antiviral immunity, independent of allergy, suggests that high-risk population groups should avoid extensive outdoor activities when pollen and respiratory virus seasons coincide.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Hundreds of plant species release their pollen into the air every year during early spring. During that period, pollen allergic as well as non-allergic patients frequently present to doctors with severe respiratory tract infections. Our objective was therefore to assess whether pollen may interfere with antiviral immunity.
METHODS: We combined data from real-life human exposure cohorts, a mouse model and human cell culture to test our hypothesis.
RESULTS: Pollen significantly diminished interferon-λ and pro-inflammatory chemokine responses of airway epithelia to rhinovirus and viral mimics and decreased nuclear translocation of interferon regulatory factors. In mice infected with respiratory syncytial virus, co-exposure to pollen caused attenuated antiviral gene expression and increased pulmonary viral titers. In non-allergic human volunteers, nasal symptoms were positively correlated with airborne birch pollen abundance, and nasal birch pollen challenge led to downregulation of type I and -III interferons in nasal mucosa. In a large patient cohort, numbers of rhinoviruspositive cases were correlated with airborne birch pollen concentrations.
CONCLUSION: The ability of pollen to suppress innate antiviral immunity, independent of allergy, suggests that high-risk population groups should avoid extensive outdoor activities when pollen and respiratory virus seasons coincide.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Immunology, Immunology and Allergy, antiviral response; lambda-interferones; nasal symptoms; nonallergenic pollen compounds; respiratory syncytial virus; rhinovirus
Language:English
Date:1 March 2020
Deposited On:12 Feb 2020 17:34
Last Modified:12 Mar 2020 02:07
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0105-4538
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/all.14047
PubMed ID:31512243

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