Phenotypic and transcriptional changes of pulmonary immune responses in dogs following canine distemper virus infection
Canine distemper virus (CDV), a morbillivirus within the family Paramyxoviridae, is a highly contagious infectious agent causing a multisystemic, devastating disease in a broad range of host species, characterized by severe immunosuppression, encephalitis and pneumonia. The present study aimed at investigating pulmonary immune responses of CDV-infected dogs in situ using immunohistochemistry and whole transcriptome analyses by bulk RNA sequencing. Spatiotemporal analysis of phenotypic changes revealed pulmonary immune responses primarily driven by MHC-II+, Iba-1+ and CD204+ innate immune cells during acute and subacute infection phases, which paralleled pathologic lesion development and coincided with high viral loads in CDV-infected lungs. CD20+ B cell numbers initially declined, followed by lymphoid repopulation in the advanced disease phase. Transcriptome analysis demonstrated an increased expression of transcripts related to innate immunity, antiviral defense mechanisms, type I interferon responses and regulation of cell death in the lung of CDV-infected dogs. Molecular analyses also revealed disturbed cytokine responses with a pro-inflammatory M1 macrophage polarization and impaired mucociliary defense in CDV-infected lungs. The exploratory study provides detailed data on CDV-related pulmonary immune responses, expanding the list of immunologic parameters potentially leading to viral elimination and virus-induced pulmonary immunopathology in canine distemper.