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Exploring Cell Tropism as a Possible Contributor to Influenza Infection Severity

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 16:54 authored by Catherine A. A. Beauchemin, Hana M. Dobrovolny, Marc J. Baron, Ronald Gieschke, Brian E. Davies, Nelson L. Jumbe
Several mechanisms have been proposed to account for the marked increase in severity of human infections with avian compared to human influenza strains, including increased cytokine expression, poor immune response, and differences in target cell receptor affinity. Here, the potential effect of target cell tropism on disease severity is studied using a mathematical model for in-host influenza viral infection in a cell population consisting of two different cell types. The two cell types differ only in their susceptibility to infection and rate of virus production. We show the existence of a parameter regime which is characterized by high viral loads sustained long after the onset of infection. This finding suggests that differences in cell tropism between influenza strains could be sufficient to cause significant differences in viral titer profiles, similar to those observed in infections with certain strains of influenza A virus. The two target cell mathematical model offers good agreement with experimental data from severe influenza infections, as does the usual, single target cell model albeit with biologically unrealistic parameters. Both models predict that while neuraminidase inhibitors and adamantanes are only effective when administered early to treat an uncomplicated seasonal infection, they can be effective against more severe influenza infections even when administered late.