Prevention of influenza-induced lung injury in mice overexpressing extracellular superoxide dismutase
Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species such as superoxide and nitric oxide are released into the extracellular spaces by inflammatory and airway epithelial cells. These molecules may exacerbate lung injury after influenza virus pneumonia. We hypothesized that enhanced expression of extracellular superoxide dismutase (EC SOD) in mouse airways would attenuate the pathological effects of influenza pneumonia. We compared the pathogenic effects of a nonlethal primary infection with mouse-adapted Hong Kong influenza A/68 virus in transgenic (TG) EC SOD mice versus non-TG (wild-type) littermates. Compared with wild-type mice, EC SOD TG mice showed less lung injury and inflammation as measured by significant blunting of interferon-γ induction, reduced cell count and total protein in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, reduced levels of lung nitrite/nitrate nitrotyrosine, and markedly reduced lung pathology. These results demonstrate that enhancing EC SOD in the conducting and distal airways of the lung minimizes influenza-induced lung injury by both ameliorating inflammation and attenuating oxidative stress.