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Ferreting out causes

It has been observed that viral respiratory infections exacerbate bronchial asthma. Investigators at the Cardiovascular Research Institute in San Francisco sought to use in vitro approaches to define the underlying mechanisms.

They set up isolated tracheal rings from ferrets in conventional organ baths and recorded changes in isometric tension in response to added agonists. They "infected" tissues with human influenza A virus by incubating them with solutions containing supernatants from infected rhesus monkey kidney cell monolayers. Control segments were incubated with supernatants from uninfected cells. They tested the responses of the segments to acetylcholine and the neuropeptide Substance P. Data taken from their paper (J. Appl. Physiol. 64:2653-2658, 1988).

Response to acetylcholine Response to substance P

Contractile response of ferret tracheal rings to acetylcholine(A) and substance P (B). C, control; V, virus infected; Th, thiorpan treated.

From Jacoby et al. (1988) J. Appl. Physiol. 64 (6): 2653-2658.Reproduced with permission.

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