The respiratory Influenza A Viruses (IAVs) and emerging zoonotic viruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pose a significant threat to human health. To accelerate our understanding of the host–pathogen response to respiratory viruses, the use of more complex in vitro systems such as normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cell culture models has gained prominence as an alternative to animal models. NHBE cells were differentiated under air-liquid interface (ALI) conditions to form an in vitro pseudostratified epithelium. The responses of well-differentiated (wd) NHBE cells were examined following infection with the 2009 pandemic Influenza A/H1N1pdm09 strain or following challenge with the dsRNA mimic, poly(I:C). At 30 h postinfection with H1N1pdm09, the integrity of the airway epithelium was severely impaired and apical junction complex damage was exhibited by the disassembly of zona occludens-1 (ZO-1) from the cell cytoskeleton. wdNHBE cells produced an innate immune response to IAV-infection with increased transcription of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines and the antiviral viperin
but reduced expression of the mucin-encoding MUC5B
, which may impair mucociliary clearance. Poly(I:C) produced similar responses to IAV, with the exception of MUC5B
expression which was more than 3-fold higher than for control cells. This study demonstrates that wdNHBE cells are an appropriate ex-vivo model system to investigate the pathogenesis of respiratory viruses.
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