Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-induced diseases are mediated through active cytokines released during infection. We hypothesized that RSV infection causes bronchial epithelial monolayer permeability in vitro via induction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Methods: Human bronchial epithelial cells were infected with RSV. In some cultures, VEGF antibody was included to block VEGF response; in other cultures, palivizumab was added to block RSV infection. Permeability was assessed in real-time using electric cell-substrate impedance sensing. VEGF release was assessed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Gap formation was assessed using live cell imaging.
Results: RSV-infected cells demonstrated a decrease in the resistance of the monolayer indicating an increase in permeability; this increase was blocked with VEGF-specific antibody, and palivizumab. Intercellular gap formation developed in RSV-infected epithelial monolayers.
Conclusion: RSV increases permeability of the bronchial airway epithelial monolayer via VEGF induction.