Where Rhinovirus Replicates Best

A mouse study shows that the common cold-causing virus replicates better in the cooler nasal cavity than in the warmer lung.

Jan 6, 2015
Tracy Vence

WIKIMEDIA, RAMARhinovirus replicates better in the murine nasal cavity than the mouse lung, researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine and their colleagues reported in PNAS this week (January 5). The researchers showed that most strains of the common cold-causing virus better replicate at the cooler temperatures in the nose than the warmer lung environment in part because of diminished antiviral immune responses of infected cells at the site.

“We’ve known for 50 years that [rhinovirus] replicated better in the nose, but the mechanism has never been clearly defined,” study coauthor Akiko Iwasaki of Yale told BBC News.

In mice, as it turns out, “the immune defense mechanisms are less efficient in the cooler temperatures,” Iwasaki told The Verge.

Jonathan Ball, a professor of virology the University of Nottingham who was not involved in the work, told the BBC that the study “could explain why the rhinovirus causes colds and is less able to cause more serious lung infections, like influenza does.” (See “Catching the Cold,” The Scientist, February 2013.)