Children are less likely than adults to suffer severe symptoms when infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), while influenza A H1N1 severity is comparable across ages except for the very young or elderly. Airway epithelial cells play a vital role in the early defence against viruses via their barrier and immune functions. We investigated viral replication and immune responses in SARS-CoV-2-infected bronchial epithelial cells from healthy paediatric (n = 6; 2.5–5.6 years old) and adult (n = 4; 47–63 years old) subjects and compared cellular responses following infection with SARS-CoV-2 or Influenza A H1N1. While infection with either virus triggered robust transcriptional interferon responses, including induction of type I (IFNB1) and type III (IFNL1) interferons, markedly lower levels of interferons and inflammatory proteins (IL-6, IL-8) were released following SARS-CoV-2 compared to H1N1 infection. Only H1N1 infection caused disruption of the epithelial layer. Interestingly, H1N1 infection resulted in sustained upregulation of SARS-CoV-2 entry factors FURIN and NRP1. We did not find any differences in the epithelial response to SARS-CoV-2 infection between paediatric and adult cells. Overall, SARS-CoV-2 had diminished potential to replicate, affect morphology and evoke immune responses in bronchial epithelial cells compared to H1N1.

Fuente: Mucosal Immunology

Published: 15 July 2022