Eur J Immunol 2012 Oct 20;42(10):2727-35. Epub 2012 Aug 20.
Department of Pediatrics, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of lower respiratory tract infections in infants, with remarkable variability in disease severity. An exaggerated proinflammatory response and influx of leukocytes is part of the pathogenesis of severe RSV disease. Here, we show an increase in proinflammatory cytokine production by human immune cells after stimulation with RSV and muramyl dipeptide (MDP), which is recognized by nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain containing 2 (NOD2). PBMCs from Crohn's disease patients homozygous for the 3020insC mutation in the NOD2 gene did not show a synergistic response to stimulation with RSV and MDP, suggesting that NOD2 is essential for the observed synergy. Further experiments aimed at identifying the viral ligand indicated that viral RNA plays an essential role in the recognition of RSV. Stimulation with RSV or Poly(I:C) induced IFN-β expression, which resulted in an increased expression of the viral receptors TLR3 and RIG-I, as well as an increased NOD2 expression. Our data indicate that IFN-β induction by viral RNA is an essential first step in the increased proinflammatory response to MDP. We hypothesize that the enhanced proinflammatory response to MDP following RSV infection may be an important factor in determining the outcome of the severity of disease.