Club cells are 'bad guys' during flu infection

August 18, 2014, Rockefeller University
This image depicts healthy lung tissue (bottom section), damage inflicted by flu infection (middle), and reduced pathology after depletion of previously infected club cells (upper). Credit: Emilie Clark

A specialized subset of lung cells can shake flu infection, yet they remain stamped with an inflammatory gene signature that wreaks havoc in the lung, according to a study published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Seasonal flu is caused by influenza virus, which can infect a variety of cell types in the lung. Infected cells are typically destroyed by the virus itself or by that attack . The resulting inflammation can linger on long after the virus has been eliminated leading to persistent symptoms and, in some cases, severe tissue damage.

Club cells are specialized cells that normally protect against inhaled microbes and pollutants. However, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York show that club cells are bad guys during flu infection. Although they are able to rid themselves of the flu virus, club cells fail to switch off expression of inflammatory genes causing prolonged pathology in the lungs even after the virus has been contained. Depletion of surviving club cells lessened destructive lung damage in flu-infected mice.

The authors confirm that human club cells show a similar inflammatory response to , so targeting club cells might be a strategy to shorten the duration of flu symptoms in humans.

Explore further: Study identifies enzyme that plays crucial role in resistance to influenza

More information: Heaton, N.S., et al. 2014. J. Exp. Med. DOI: 10.1084/jem.20140488

Related Stories

Study identifies enzyme that plays crucial role in resistance to influenza

January 15, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—McGill researchers, led by Dr. Maya Saleh of the Department of Medicine, have identified an enzyme, cIAP2 that helps the lungs protect themselves from the flu by giving them the ability to resist tissue ...

Ginseng can treat and prevent influenza and RSV, researcher finds

April 21, 2014
Ginseng can help treat and prevent influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages, according to research findings by a scientist in Georgia State University's ...

Rebooting the system: Immune cells repair damaged lung tissues after flu infection

October 3, 2011
There's more than one way to mop up after a flu infection. Now, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania report in Nature Immunology that a previously unrecognized population of lung ...

New light shed on cause of lung injury in severe flu

February 29, 2012
While some scientists report engineering a super virulent strain of the H5N1 influenza virus, which could potentially wipe out a significant percentage of the human population, another group of researchers from the United ...

Potential new flu drugs target immune response, not virus

July 21, 2014
The seriousness of disease often results from the strength of immune response, rather than with the virus, itself. Turning down that response, rather than attacking the virus, might be a better way to reduce that severity, ...

Bacterial respiratory tract colonization prior to catching the flu may protect against severe illness

July 10, 2014
Many studies have shown that more severe illness and even death are likely to result if you develop a secondary respiratory infection after developing influenza. Now, however, a team of researchers based at The Wistar Institute ...

Recommended for you

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

Human protein may aid neuron invasion by virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease

January 11, 2018
A human protein known as prohibitin may play a significant role in infection of the nervous system by EV71, one of several viruses that can cause hand, foot, and mouth disease. Issac Too of the National University of Singapore ...

Untangling how Epstein-Barr virus infects cells

January 11, 2018
A team led by scientists at Northwestern Medicine has discovered a new epithelial receptor for Epstein-Barr virus, according to a study published recently in Nature Microbiology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.