Characterization of a flexible AAV-DTR/DT mouse model of acute epithelial lung injury

Eva Griesser, Tanja Schönberger, Birgit Stierstorfer, Hannah Wyatt, Wolfgang Rist, Thorsten Lamla, Matthew James Thomas, David Lamb, Kerstin Geillinger-Kästle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Animal models are important to mimic certain pathways or biological aspects of human pathologies including acute and chronic pulmonary diseases. We developed a novel and flexible mouse model of acute epithelial lung injury based on adeno-associated virus (AAV) variant 6.2-mediated expression of the human diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR). Following intratracheal administration of diphtheria toxin (DT), a cell-specific death of bronchial and alveolar epithelial cells can be observed. In contrast to other lung injury models, the here described mouse model provides the possibility of targeted injury using specific tropisms of AAV vectors or cell-type-specific promotors to drive the human DTR expression. Also, generation of cell-specific mouse lines is not required. Detailed characterization of the AAV-DTR/DT mouse model including titration of viral genome (vg) load and administered DT amount revealed increasing cell numbers in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL; macrophages, neutrophils, and unspecified cells) and elevation of degenerated cells and infiltrated leukocytes in lung tissue, dependent of vg load and DT dose. Cytokine levels in BAL fluid showed different patterns with higher vg load, e.g., IFNγ, TNFα, and IP10 increasing and IL-5 and IL-6 decreasing, whereas lung function was not affected. In addition, laser-capture microdissection (LCM)-based proteomics of bronchial epithelium and alveolar tissue revealed upregulated immune and inflammatory responses in all regions and extracellular matrix deposition in infiltrated alveoli. Overall, our novel AAV-DTR/DT model allows investigation of repair mechanisms following epithelial injury and resembles specific mechanistic aspects of acute and chronic pulmonary diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L206-L218
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology. Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • AAV
  • DTR
  • diphtheria toxin
  • epithelial injury
  • lung injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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