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Altered pathogenesis of porcine respiratory coronavirus in pigs due to immunosuppressive effects of dexamethasone: implications for corticosteroid use in treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus



Altered pathogenesis of porcine respiratory coronavirus in pigs due to immunosuppressive effects of dexamethasone: implications for corticosteroid use in treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus



Journal of Virology 81(24): 13681-13693



The pathogenesis and optimal treatments for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are unclear, although corticosteroids were used to reduce lung and systemic inflammation. Because the pulmonary pathology of porcine respiratory coronavirus (PRCV) in pigs resembles SARS, we used PRCV as a model to clarify the effects of the corticosteroid dexamethasone (DEX) on coronavirus (CoV)-induced pneumonia. Conventional weaned pigs (n = 130) in one of four groups (PRCV/phosphate-buffered saline [PBS] [n = 41], PRCV/DEX [n = 41], mock/PBS [n = 23], and mock/DEX [n = 25]) were inoculated intranasally and intratracheally with the ISU-1 strain of PRCV (1 x 10(7) PFU) or cell culture medium. DEX was administered (once daily, 2 mg/kg of body weight/day, intramuscularly) from postinoculation day (PID) 1 to 6. In PRCV/DEX pigs, significantly milder pneumonia, fewer PRCV-positive cells, and lower viral RNA titers were present in lungs early at PID 2; however, at PID 4, 10, and 21, severe bronchointerstitial pneumonia, significantly higher numbers of PRCV-positive cells, and higher viral RNA titers were observed compared to results for PRCV/PBS pigs. Significantly lower numbers of CD2(+), CD3(+), CD4(+), and CD8(+) T cells were also observed in lungs of PRCV/DEX pigs than in those of PRCV/PBS pigs at PID 8 and 10, coincident with fewer gamma interferon (IFN-gamma)-secreting cells in the tracheobronchial lymph nodes as determined by enzyme-linked immunospot assay. Our results confirm that DEX treatment alleviates PRCV pneumonia early (PID 2) in the infection but continued use through PID 6 exacerbates later stages of infection (PID 4, 10, and 21), possibly by decreasing cellular immune responses in the lungs (IFN-gamma-secreting T cells), thereby creating an environment for more-extensive viral replication. These data have potential implications for corticosteroid use with SARS-CoV patients and suggest a precaution against prolonged use based on their unproven efficacy in humans, including possible detrimental secondary effects.

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Accession: 029978870

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 17942563

DOI: 10.1128/jvi.01702-07


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