Effects of Virus Infection on Airway Neural Control
Many of the clinical features of respiratory tract virus infections, including cough, wheeze, and sputum production, are mediated, in part, by the action of airway nerves. Since stimulation of some airway nerves mimics the clinical features of a respiratory tract virus infection, it is not surprising that activation of these nerves is an important pathogenic feature of these infections. The various mechanisms by which viruses activate airway nerves will be discussed in this chapter. In addition to playing a role in mediating the symptoms of virus infection, airway nerves also play an active role in mediating the host’s response to a respiratory virus infection. These interactions between the host, exerted through airway nerves, and respiratory viruses will also be discussed. In humans, it is relatively difﬁcult to study airway nerve function in vivo and hence much of the research outlined in this chapter has been performed in animal models. There is a considerable degree of interspecies variability in neural function, in particular in the function of sensory nerves. This variability in nerve function between species adds to the difﬁculty of translating the results of animal experiments to humans. Thus, in this chapter the results of studies on human subjects have been emphasized.