Human respiratory syncytial virus produces prolonged alterations of neural control in airways of developing ferrets

G. N. Colasurdo, V. G. Hemming, G. A. Prince, A. S. Gelfand, J. E. Loader, G. L. Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A dysfunction of pathways that normally cause contraction or relaxation of airways has been proposed to explain heightened levels of responsiveness produced by various insults to the airway. For example, we previously reported (4) that infection of cotton rats with the human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) leads to a significant decrease in an airway's nonadrenergic noncholinergic inhibitory (NANCi) response shortly after the infection. In the present study we addressed the more chronic effects of HRSV infection on airway function in young ferrets during a period of rapid somatic growth. Animals 1 wk old received HRSV or uninfected cell culture medium intranasally. In vitro studies of airway function were performed on tracheal smooth muscle (TSM) segments at 4, 8, and 24 wk of age. To evaluate neurally mediated contractile responses, frequency-response curves to electrical field stimulation (EFS) were performed with results expressed in terms of the frequency causing 50% of the maximal contractile response (ES50). In addition, contractile responses of TSM to methacholine (MCh) were also assessed with results expressed as the concentration needed to produce 50% of the maximal contractile response (EC50). To gauge NANCi responses, TSM was contracted with neurokinin A in the presence of atropine, propranolol, and indomethacin. Relaxant responses to EFS were assessed at frequencies from 5 to 30 Hz, with results expressed as mean percent relaxation. We found increased contractile responses to EFS in infected animals compared with that in the control group in both 4- and 8-wk old animals (p = 0.001 and p = 0.008, respectively). This difference had resolved by 24 wk of age. There was no difference in TSM responses to MCh between the groups at any age. Although there were no NANCi responses in 4-wk-old ferrets from either group, NANCi responses were significantly decreased in 8-wk-old ferrets previously infected with HRSV in the first week of life (p = 0.0001). A significant difference persisted (p = 0.008), albeit to a lesser degree, at 24 wk of age. These findings demonstrate that HRSV produces prolonqed alterations of TSM function in ferret airways in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1506-1511
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number5 PART I
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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