For the first time in published literature, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) researchers have shown that a variety of white blood cells known as eosinophils (image) modify the respiratory barrier during influenza A virus (IAV) infection, according to a paper published online on February 27, 2021 in Cells. This research could have implications in understanding SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection in asthmatic patients. The open-access article is titled “Eosinophil Responses at the Airway Epithelial Barrier During the Early Phase of Influenza A Virus Infection in C57BL/6 Mice” (https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4409/10/3/509). The Le Bonheur/UTHSC study found that eosinophils immunomodulate airway epithelial cells during IAV infection, helping to neutralize the virus and protect the airway. The study was led by University of Tennessee Health Science Center Postdoctoral Fellow Meenakshi Tiwary, PhD, from the lab of Director of the Pediatric Asthma Research Program and Plough Foundation Chair of Excellence in Pediatrics, Amali Samarasinghe, PhD, in collaboration with Robert Rooney, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Director of the Biorepository and Integrative Genomics Initiative at Le Bonheur, and Swantje Liedmann, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "We examined eosinophil responses to influenza A virus during the early phase of infection and found that eosinophils exhibit multiple functions as active mediators of antiviral host defense," said Dr. Samarasinghe.
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