Influenza virus infection alters ion channel function of airway and alveolar cells: Mechanisms and physiological sequelae

Academic Article


  • The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and the amiloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channels (ENaC) are located in the apical membranes of airway and alveolar epithelial cells. These transporters play an important role in the regulation of lung fluid balance across airway and alveolar epithelia by being the conduits for chloride (Cl−) and bicarbonate (HCO3−) secretion and sodium (Na+) ion absorption, respectively. The functional role of these channels in the respiratory tract is to maintain the optimum volume and ionic composition of the bronchial periciliary fluid (PCL) and alveolar lining fluid (ALF) layers. The PCL is required for proper mucociliary clearance of pathogens and debris, and the ALF is necessary for surfactant homeostasis and optimum gas exchange. Dysregulation of ion transport may lead to mucus accumulation, bacterial infections, inflammation, pulmonary edema, and compromised respiratory function. Influenza (or flu) in mammals is caused by influenza A and B viruses. Symptoms include dry cough, sore throat, and is often followed by secondary bacterial infections, accumulation of fluid in the alveolar spaces and acute lung injury. The underlying mechanisms of flu symptoms are not fully understood. This review summarizes our present knowledge of how influenza virus infections alter airway and alveolar epithelial cell CFTR and ENaC function in vivo and in vitro and the role of these changes in influenza pathogenesis.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Londino JD; Lazrak A; Collawn JF; Bebok Z; Harrod KS; Matalon S
  • Start Page

  • L845
  • End Page

  • L858
  • Volume

  • 313
  • Issue

  • 5