Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis is a major burden in infants below three months of age, when the primary immune response is mainly dependent on innate immunity and maternal antibodies. We investigated the influence of antibodies on innate immunity during RSV infection.
PBMCs from infants and adults were stimulated with live RSV and inactivated RSV in combination with antibody-containing and antibody-depleted serum. The immune response was determined by transcriptome analysis and chemokine levels were measured using ELISA and flow cytometry.
Microarray data showed that CXCL10 gene transcription was RSV dependent, whereas CXCL11 and IFNα were upregulated in an antibody-dependent manner. Although the presence of antibodies reduces RSV infection rate, it enhances the innate immune response. In adult immune cells, antibodies enhance CXCL10, CXCL11, IFNα and IFNγ production in response to RSV infection. Contrary, in infant immune cells only CXCL10 was enhanced in an antibody-dependent manner. Monocytes are the main source of CXCL10 and they produce CXCL10 in both an antibody- and virus-dependent manner.
This study shows that antibodies enhance CXCL10 production in infant immune cells. CXCL10 has been implicated in exuberating the inflammatory response during viral infections and antibodies could therefore play a role in the pathogenesis of RSV infections.