Using fluorescent antibody techniques, a semi-quantitative survey has been made of the distribution of influenza virus antigen in the trachea, main bronchi, and three zones (hilar, intermediate and alveolar) of all four lung lobes of ferrets following intranasal inoculation of a virulent clone (7a) of the recombinant influenza virus A/PR/8/34-A/England/939/69 (H3N2). The results confirm the indications from our previous quantitative surveys of infectious virus and histological damage in these areas, namely that infection is confined largely to airway epithelium and is rare in the alveoli. Furthermore, in the lung zones, viral antigen resided mainly in the bronchial rather than bronchiolar epithelium. In attempts to identify the reasons for lack of alveolar involvement organ cultures of alveolar tissue, from which all major airways had been removed, produced levels of virus similar to cultures of bronchus and trachea and the hilar and intermediate lung zones which contain airway and alveolar tissue. Hence, the lack of alveolar infection must be due to factors which prevent virus attack of susceptible alveolar cells. However, these organ culture experiments showed that a contributing factor could be very poor release of virus from any alveolar cells that do become infected. In contrast, although cultures of bronchi produced less virus than those of nasal turbinates (the most susceptible tissue ) they released a high proportion of their yield and this ease of release may contribute to spread of infection .


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