• Induction of alternatively activated macrophages enhances pathogenesis during severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection

      Page, C.; Goicochea, L.; Matthews, K.; Frieman, M. (2012)
      Infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) causes acute lung injury (ALI) that often leads to severe lung disease. A mouse model of acute SARS-CoV infection has been helpful in understanding the host response to infection; however, there are still unanswered questions concerning SARS-CoV pathogenesis. We have shown that STAT1 plays an important role in the severity of SARS-CoV pathogenesis and that it is independent of the role of STAT1 in interferon signaling. Mice lacking STAT1 have greater weight loss, severe lung pathology with pre-pulmonary-fibrosis-like lesions, and an altered immune response following infection with SARS-CoV. We hypothesized that STAT1 plays a role in the polarization of the immune response, specifically in macrophages, resulting in a worsened outcome. To test this, we created bone marrow chimeras and celltype- specific knockouts of STAT1 to identify which cell type(s) is critical to protection from severe lung disease after SARS-CoV infection. Bone marrow chimera experiments demonstrated that hematopoietic cells are responsible for the pathogenesis in STAT1-/- mice, and because of an induction of alternatively activated (AA) macrophages after infection, we hypothesized that the AA macrophages were critical for disease severity. Mice with STAT1 in either monocytes and macrophages (LysM/STAT1) or ciliated lung epithelial cells (FoxJ1/STAT1) deleted were created. Following infection, LysM/STAT1 mice display severe lung pathology, while FoxJ1/STAT1 mice display normal lung pathology. We hypothesized that AA macrophages were responsible for this STAT1-dependent pathology and therefore created STAT1/STAT6-/- double-knockout mice. STAT6 is essential for the development of AA macrophages. Infection of the double-knockout mice displayed a lack of lung disease and prefibrotic lesions, suggesting that AA macrophage production may be the cause of STAT1-dependent lung disease. We propose that the control of AA macrophages by STAT1 is critical to regulating immune pathologies and for protection from long-term progression to fibrotic lung disease in a mouse model of SARS-CoV infection.
    • Molecular determinants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus pathogenesis and virulence in young and aged mouse models of human disease

      Frieman, M.; Yount, B.; Page, C. (2012)
      SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) causes severe acute respiratory tract disease characterized by diffuse alveolar damage and hyaline membrane formation. This pathology often progresses to acute respiratory distress (such as acute respiratory distress syndrome [ARDS]) and atypical pneumonia in humans, with characteristic age-related mortality rates approaching 50% or more in immunosenescent populations. The molecular basis for the extreme virulence of SARS-CoV remains elusive. Since young and aged (1-year-old) mice do not develop severe clinical disease following infection with wild-type SARS-CoV, a mouse-adapted strain of SARS-CoV (called MA15) was developed and was shown to cause lethal infection in these animals. To understand the genetic contributions to the increased pathogenesis of MA15 in rodents, we used reverse genetics and evaluated the virulence of panels of derivative viruses encoding various combinations of mouse-adapted mutations. We found that mutations in the viral spike (S) glycoprotein and, to a much less rigorous extent, in the nsp9 nonstructural protein, were primarily associated with the acquisition of virulence in young animals. The mutations in S likely increase recognition of the mouse angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor not only in MA15 but also in two additional, independently isolated mouse-adapted SARS-CoVs. In contrast to the findings for young animals, mutations to revert to the wild-type sequence in nsp9 and the S glycoprotein were not sufficient to significantly attenuate the virus compared to other combinations of mouse-adapted mutations in 12-month-old mice. This panel of SARS-CoVs provides novel reagents that we have used to further our understanding of differential, age-related pathogenic mechanisms in mouse models of human disease.