Swine generate reassortant influenza viruses because they can be simultaneously infected with avian and human influenza; however, the features that restrict influenza reassortment in swine and human hosts are not fully understood. Type I and III interferons (IFNs) act as the first line of defense against influenza virus infection of respiratory epithelium. To determine if human and swine have different capacities to mount an antiviral response the expression of IFN and IFN-stimulated genes (ISG) in normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells and normal swine bronchial epithelial (NSBE) cells was evaluated following infection with human (H3N2), swine (H1N1), and avian (H5N3, H5N2, H5N1) influenza A viruses. Expression of IFNλ and ISGs were substantially higher in NHBE cells compared to NSBE cells following H5 avian influenza virus infection compared to human or swine influenza virus infection. This effect was associated with reduced H5 avian influenza virus replication in human cells at late times post infection. Further, RIG-I expression was lower in NSBE cells compared to NHBE cells suggesting reduced virus sensing. Together, these studies identify key differences in the antiviral response between human and swine respiratory epithelium alluding to differences that may govern influenza reassortment.
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