A probable role for IFN-γ in the development of a lung immunopathology in SARS

Michel Theron, Kao Jean Huang, Yu Wen Chen, Ching Chuan Liu, Huan Yao Lei

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Recent work carried out in our laboratory showed the existence of a cytokine storm in SARS patients, dominated by Th1-type mediators. We thus hypothesized that IFN-γ may play a major role in the pathology by triggering immune-mediated alveolar damage. As we assessed or re-assessed some effects of IFN-γ on a number of human lung epithelial and fibroblast cell lines, chosen for their wide use in the literature, we found that alveolar epithelial cells were more sensitive to IFN-γ, in terms of proliferation inhibition and enhancement of Fas-mediated apoptosis. While similar effects were obtained on fibroblasts, concentrations of IFN-γ 4-8-fold greater were required. In addition, both epithelial and fibroblastic cell lines were able to secrete large quantities of T cell-targeting chemokines, similar to the ones detected in SARS patients. Based on the clinical data collected previously, the available literature and our in vitro experimentation, we propose that IFN-γ may be responsible for acute lung injury in the late phase of the SARS pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Oct 7

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry
  • Hematology
  • Molecular Biology

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